Just yesterday I was taking note of how much of a consumer push BlackBerrys are making these days. A few years ago, the word BlackBerry was synonymous with with "work", but I’m seeing more and more consumers carry the RIM devices around. More support for entertaining functions like audio and video content are surely helping that trend, which continued yesterday with the announcement of a partnership with TiVo. Based on that, I probably shouldn’t be surprised at the latest smartphone market share numbers from Gartner. Nearly every platform sold more devices, but the big winner in my mind was RIM. The graph above shows the smartphone market share in the second quarter of 2008. Here’s a quick rundown of the numbers this year and last, as well as my thoughts on what the 2009 will look like.
Looking back to 2007, it’s no surprise that Symbian was the leader by a far margin. Windows Mobile is solidly tucked in second place ahead of Linux-based smartphones, although I’m not sure I could name three smartphones based on Linux if pressed. RIM has a solid near-nine percent and the iPhone, which had just arrived that quarter, has one percent. The Palm OS is actually ahead of the iPhone at this point, even though it’s lower on my chart. This was before the Centro, by the way… an important point since over two million Centros have been sold since.
Here we are a year later, with the quarter than just ended in June. Symbian continues to trend down as the other players grab market share. And there’s number two: RIM. While nearly all of the other smaller players also gained market share at Symbian’s expense, RIM has nearly doubled it’s share. The same could be said of Mac OS X devices, i.e.: the iPhone, which actually did more than double. However, it’s mathematically easier to show the big growth numbers early on in the game. Later it becomes much more difficult. That’s not to downplay Apple’s significant achievement in any way, it’s just a mathematical fact. You can see that all of those Centros made a difference to Palm’s number here.
RIM leap-frogging Windows Mobile at this point simply surprises me. While there are a number of players in the Windows Mobile handset market, HTC has provided some outstanding phone designs in their Touch series over the past year. And yet RIM, with it’s long-time corporate device image has also managed to bang out a fair number of popular devices based on the Pearl and the Curve. More popular than I thought, based on these numbers.
So what will the smartphone market look like a year from now? Google’s Android won’t be widespread, so I don’t anticipate a major impact there. Palm is expected to release their new operating system, but even if that happens, it’s going to take time to sell devices that use it. Here’s my guesstimate then:
Symbian stays in the number one spot, but their share dips dangerously close to or just under the 50% mark. Apple continues to be the big gainer and grabs 8% thanks to the 3G iPhone and Exchange Support with corporate adoption here and there. Palm’s low price strategy continues to work with the Centro, and while it wont have the impact it had in 2008, Palm should still grow to near 3.5% . Still, the new Palm Treo Pro will show up in the workplace for some, giving them a 3.5% share. Linux devices stay status quo around 7%, which leaves 31.5% left for RIM and Windows Mobile. My gut says that RIM continues the upward trend faster than Windows Mobile. A new version of Windows Mobile should be out by this time next year, but it will take time to appear in a vast number of handsets. Well, if the 6.1 upgrade is any indication anyway. RIM will take 19% to 20% market share, leaving Windows Mobile flat in terms of market share. We’ll have to check in this time next year to see how well, or how poorly, I did.