Sales figures show Apple increases power in mobile market

Sales figures for mobile phones have shown that Apple has broken into the top five global manufacturers, supplanting RIM in the process.

The top three manufacturers, Nokia, Samsung and LG, remained the same as sales for both smartphones and mobile phones in general rose massively from the third quarter of 2009 to the third quarter of 2010, according to a report by Gartner

It is noted that total mobile phone sales amounted to a total of 417 million units, marking a 35 percent increase.  Smartphones saw an incredible 96 percent increase, now accounting for 19.3 percent of total mobile phone sales worldwide.

“This is the third consecutive double-digit increase in sales year-on-year, indicating that consumer demand is healthy,” said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner. “This quarter saw Apple and Android drive record smartphone sales. Apple’s share of the smartphone market surpassed Research In Motion in North America to put it second behind Android while Android volumes also grew rapidly making it the No. 2 operating system worldwide.”

Gartner now expects overall devices sales to show over 30 percent year-on-year growth fuelled by white-box manufacturers.

It is noted that in addition to the strong growth of smartphone sales, increasing sales of white-box products in emerging regions contributed to driving sales of mobiles up according to Milanesi:

“In the third quarter, white-box manufacturers continued to expand their reach outside of China into markets such as India, Russia, Africa and Latin America. We firmly believe this phenomenon will not be short-lived as we still see a continued need for non-3G devices. Although we have seen acceleration in sales this quarter, we expect an even bigger volume in the fourth quarter of 2010.”

Milanesi stated that this is having a profound effect on the top five mobile handset manufacturers’ combined share that dropped from 83 percent in the third quarter of 2009 to 66.9 percent in the third quarter of 2010.

Nokia reportedly sold 110.4 million units, its volume sales being lower than expected due to component shortages, though such shortages contributed to less availability of cheaper products meaning that customers were encouraged to look to more expensive handsets.  Overall Nokia saw greater profits than expected.

Samsung also did well, with sales reaching 71.7 million handsets, while LG sold 27.5 million, though its global market share dropped 6.6 percent.

Apple performed very well as expected selling 13.5 million units, and could have seen greater sales if it were not for ongoing supply issues.  Apple’s mobile devices saw sales in Europe and Asia more than double, with the adoption of the iPhone and iPad by enterprises contributing to growth.

RIM saw its global smartphone market share drop to 14.8 percent despite selling 11.9 million deivices.  Its share in North America declined to 11.2 percent,losing its leading smartphone position to Apple.  It is noted that the introduction of handsets such as the iPhone 4 and Samsung Galaxy S were responsible for reducing RIM’s market share.

Overall more than 81 million smartphones were sold, with Android accounting for 25.5 percent, making it the world’s number two operating system.

This was in part due to Android devices being launched at lower prices, such as ZTE releasing an Android phone via Orange for less than £100.

Apple’s iPhone 4 performed particularly well, in part due to the wider ecosystem built around iTunes and the App Store helping Apple dominate.  This helped Apple surpass RIM in the smartphone market in North America to put it second behind Android.

“Smartphone OS providers have entered a period of accelerated platform evolution, stimulated by more regular product releases, new platform entrants and new device types,” said Roberta Cozza, principal research analyst at Gartner.  “Any platform that fails to innovate quickly – either through a vibrant multi-player ecosystem or clear vision of a single controlling entity – will lose developers, manufacturers, potential partners and ultimately users.”

Gartner also stated forecasts that media tablets (such as the Apple iPad) will reach 54.8 million units in 2011.

“Apple’s dramatic expansion of iOS with the iPad and the continuing success of the iPod Touch are important sales achievements in their own right. But more importantly they contribute to the strength of Apple’s ecosystem and the iPhone in a way that smartphone-only manufacturers cannot compete with,” Ms. Milanesi said. “To a developer, the iPod Touch and iPhone (and to a lesser extent the iPad) are effectively the same device and a single market opportunity. While Android is increasingly available on media tablets and media players like the Galaxy Player, it lags far behind iOS’s multi-device presence. Apple claims it is activating around 275,000 iOS devices per day on average — that’s a compelling market for any developer. And developers’ applications in turn attract users.”