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Summary:

Sales in the smartphone market far outpaced that of feature phones in the first quarter of 2010, with each of the top five handset makers registering sales growth. As to the handset makers that gained market share — they all used one of two platforms.

Sales of smartphones grew 56.7 percent in the first quarter of this year, according to new figures from IDC, far outpacing the 21.7 percent growth of the overall mobile market. Handset makers Apple and Motorola exhibited the largest growth in terms of smartphones sold and both gained in market share, but even with 53 percent more smartphone sales than the prior year quarter, Nokia’s market share was unchanged. Research In Motion sold more BlackBerry devices in the first quarter of 2010 over 2009, but the overall market growth outpaced BlackBerry sales, and RIM’s market share dipped slightly as a result. Rounding out the top five handset makers, HTC sold 73.3 percent more converged handsets than it did in the prior year quarter and managed a slight gain in overall share.

1Q10 Sales 1Q10 Share 1Q09 Sales 1Q09 Share
Nokia 21.5 39.3% 13.7 39.3%
Research In Motion 10.6 19.4% 7.3 20.9%
Apple 8.8 16.1% 3.8 10.9%
HTC 2.6 4.8% 1.5 4.3%
Motorola 2.3 4.2% 1.2 3.4%
Other 8.9 16.3% 7.2 20.6%

Source: IDC

Looking closely at which companies are growing their market share and which are treading water or losing share, the gainers all have something in common — they create smartphones that mainly run on either Apple’s iPhone OS or Google’s Android platforms. Apple, of course, is the only vendor that uses its own platform, while HTC and Motorola have turned to Android for most, if not all, of their recent smartphones. Android standouts from HTC include the Hero, Droid Eris, myTouch 3G, Nexus One and Incredible, while Motorola is finding success with its Droid, Devour, Cliq and Backflip. Hoping to turn this trend, Nokia and RIM recently announced new operating systems to better compete — Nokia will utilize Symbian 3 in new handsets such as the N8, while RIM plans to power future smartphones with BlackBerry 6 in the third quarter of 2010.

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  1. Good stuff, Kevin. Given the growth of the market, Blackberry and Nokia should do ok, but Apple and Google seem to be so far out front of all others it will be very difficult to stop their momentum.

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    1. Agreed, Brian – Nokia and RIM have enough market share and brand recognition to keep them going until they mature the next versions of their platforms. But the real growth right now is all iPhone and Android, so the others (including Microsoft with Windows Phone 7 ) can’t dally for too long.

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    2. Lies, damn lies and statistics. If someone sold one phone one quarter and then two phones the next quarter, that would be a 100% increase. Momentum is mass times velocity so if you are considering the mass of Nokia and the mass of RIM as well as the rate of change, you see that they have much more momentum than you might think.

      I guess it is more difficult to see the reasons behind the choices because I feel the overwhelming majority of people get subsidized handsets and what matters is the pricing the carrier gives as well as the discounts. If people have to pay the same price or more for a dumbphone and are required to get an expensive data plan for any phone, why not get a smartphone and the one that the carrier is discounting? I hope one day people will have real choice and they will be able to get plans separate from phones.

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      1. “If someone sold one phone one quarter and then two phones the next quarter, that would be a 100% increase. Momentum is mass times velocity so if you are considering the mass of Nokia and the mass of RIM as well as the rate of change, you see that they have much more momentum than you might think.”

        The statement is true by itself, but wouldn’t you also have to be looking at the growth of the market overall? The scenario you provided compares a company’s growth against itself, not against competitors nor the market as a whole.

        Nokia sold 53% more phones in the quarter compared against itself in the last year, yet its market share did not grow. The market itself grew — essentially lifting all boats in the tide — but those that sell Apple and Android powered handsets grew market share while Nokia didn’t and while RIM lost share. A subtle, but important difference, given the data.

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  2. I am very curious how well the Desire is selling. It’s features put it ahead of most other devices, it’s price is very competitive, it’s available through many carriers and unlocked, so it should do very well.
    We will probably see in the next quarter report.

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    1. Sorin, I’m looking forward to the Desire sales info as well. But on a personal note, I’m more interested in the Desire ROM, which HTC should release as part of the GPL soon. I have a baked ROM with HTC Sense on my Nexus One, but the Desire ROM on my phone will be welcome. ;)

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      1. I’m curious not just because I own a Desire (love it!) and I think it’s a great device but because my feeling is that HTC has thought this very well (specs, pricing, worldwide availability, ads, etc.) so this would show us if they (and Android) stand any chance in the battle with Apple. They are after all the leading Android phone manufacturer in my opinion.

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      2. Hi Kevin,

        It is the kernel that is GPL. Therefore what they release is the kernel source only. The applications (Sense) on top are closed source.

        You can see the currently released ones here:
        http://developer.htc.com/

        Deveopers use this for tasks such as improving the custom rom performance, finding exploits for rooting on the target device.

        In case of Nexus one, I am not sure if they share the same kernel. I guess they do not.

        Regarding the sales I am curious as well. In the UK, operators keep running out of stock as soon as they havenew batches in. (Orange, Vodafone, T-Mobile)
        Either it is selling really well or the operators keep ordering dozens at a time :)

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      3. cherkazo, thanks for the clarification. The kernel for the Desire and Nexus One are different and are part of the reason my hacked ROM is causing Bluetooth to be flaky — once the Desire kernel is released, I’m hoping to see that problem fixed, but with cooked ROMs, you never know. Thanks again!

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  3. stevehoward999 Friday, May 7, 2010

    Nokia’s increase in sales in Q1/10 almost matches Apple’s total sales in the same quarter.

    I think this narrow portal into the market makes it hard to understand the full story. Apple’s momentum has stalled and reversed a little according to other data I have read. The chart above doesn’t identify Android sales specifically or show their true momentum.

    Where’s a 2 year month-by-month chart when you need one? :-)

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    1. “Nokia’s increase in sales in Q1/10 almost matches Apple’s total sales in the same quarter.”

      Yup, if you look at total units sold, that’s correct. But it doesn’t support your statement about Apple’s momentum stalling because you’re not looking at the growth rates.

      Apple sold 131.6% more handsets in Q12010 than it did in Q12009.
      Nokia sold 56.9% more handsets in Q12010 than it did in Q12009.

      Doesn’t that indicate that Apple has more more momentum than Nokia?

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      1. stevehoward999 Friday, May 7, 2010

        Yes, but you are looking at incomplete data. Hence my comment that according other data I have read, Apple’s momentum has stalled. You need to look at data for many quarters side-by-side, or as I suggested, monthly data.

        I doubt anyone knows for sure what the real story is, but the figures posted here are an incomplete snapshot that cannot, in themselves, be used to understand the actual momentum of any company’s sales.

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      2. Ah, fair point as momentum is measured over time. I’ve seen different reports on that momentum myself, so I see where you’re coming from.

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      3. Curtis Carmack Friday, May 7, 2010

        I don’t think Apple’s momentum is stalling so much as it is suffering from seasonality more than other smartphone makers. As Apple has only one device, it’s release cycle (new phone every summer, approximately) affects sales growth and momentum in a pattern that appears to show a slowing in the time leading up to a new release. If anything, the recent data show that this is happening at a much lower rate this cycle than in previous cycles. Apples numbers are going to be a little bumpier by virtue of their smaller product portfolio, but I believe their growth will spurt even further ahead in the coming quarters.

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      4. Kevin, even the title is misleading. Smartphone growth should be where most of the NEW smartphone sold are. You look at the difference and that will clearly show that Nokia is fueling smartphone growth. The company with the largest number of new smartphones is Nokia. It is simple mathematics. if there was an increase of 19.8 million smartphones over the previous year, what were the percentages of that total. That will give the real answer to to who or what fuels smartphone growth.

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      5. Stuart, there’s always multiple ways to look at the same thing. From your perspective, you feel that Nokia is driving the growth because they’re selling the most phones. I won’t argue with that observation, so let me put this in a different perspective. The other companies, minus RIM, are contributing more to the growth than they did before, as their share of the market is growing, while Nokia’s isn’t.

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      6. stevehoward999 Friday, May 7, 2010

        Check out this post

        iPhone’s Marketshare Decreases, Android’s Grows

        http://www.blogsdna.com/7760/iphone%e2%80%99s-marketshare-decreases-android%e2%80%99s-grows.htm

        “While RIM and Android continue to grow steadily, iPhone OS actually seen a 3.2% marketshare loss in the past month. The result of this is the iPhone losing around 10% of the overall market during the same period Android devices grew 44%”

        The article does not answer all our questions, but it challenges the suggestion that iPhone has momentum pretty strongly.

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    2. Definitely interesting, but that data has nothing to do with handset sales – it shows the market share of web traffic / consumption by platform. A good metric, but entirely different, no?

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  5. Samantha Fox Friday, May 7, 2010

    Superphone Sales should be kicking into overdrive later this month when Sprint begins taking orders for the HTC EVO 4G with Android 2.2 Froyo and then the awesome new iPhoneOS 4.0 phones get unleashed.

    It’s going to be one hot summer for smart phones that is for sure. It is really good to see Apple and Google lead the charge because the massive incompetence of MS and Nokia dropped the ball big time.

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  6. Interesting statistics. Thanks Kevin!

    Nokia has always been more popular internationally, then here in the U.S. As long as they keep innovating and updating, I’m sure Nokia will do fine.

    It seems that Blackberry’s are quickly becoming the choice for Mom’s. Granted I haven’t seen any statistics and could just be running into an odd number of mom’s who use Blackberries, but it does make sense-Blackberries allow for quick checking of email and have a keyboard.

    As for any other non -Apple or -Android OS’s, I foresee them having a hard time keeping up in terms of market share.

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  7. How soon before Apple overtakes Nokia. Looking at the numbers, Nokia should be very concerned about where they are and looking into their rear view mirror seeing Apple inching closer. Nokia desperatley needs a game changer if they are to keep their market share

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  10. Interesting stats ! I do have a rather dumb/fundamental questions and been poking around the IDC website trying to get the answer.

    How does IDC define Smart phone ? By Operating System ? Screen Size ? Or Device capability ?

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    1. Not a dumb question at all, because the definition varies wildly.

      From this 2009 Computerworld article: http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9129647/Cell_phone_smartphone_what_s_the_difference_?taxonomyId=15&pageNumber=2

      Today’s definition from IDC for a converged mobile device, which is IDC’s equivalent to smartphone in IDC press releases on phone shipments, reads, “A subset of mobile phones, converged mobile devices feature a high-level operating system that enables the device to run third-party applications in addition to voice telephony. Examples of high-level operating systems include Android, BlackBerry, Linux, Mac OS X, Palm, Symbian, and Windows Mobile. Converged mobile devices share many features with traditional mobile phones, including personal information management, multimedia, games, and office applications, but the presence of a high-level operating system differentiates these devices from all others.”

      A high-level OS, as IDC defines it, means that the OS has to be able to run third-party applications, not just those written by the OS maker; the applications must be able to run on the phone independent of the wireless network; and the OS must be able to run multiple applications concurrently.

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  11. I’m just fascinated to see whether the iPhone or Android wins out in the end. Both are awesome.

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  12. You make an important omission here. While Nokia’s worldwide share went down, this was mainly because it lost share in the lower segment. Surprising as it may sound to some, it’s smartphone share actually went up 3 procent, so please check your numbers.

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    1. Nokia’s market share wasn’t reported as down – it was flat. And these numbers only reflect smartphones, so the lower segment has no impact.

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