Smartphone sales 2010 — vendors

After having discussed mobile browser traffic share statistics for weeks, it’s time to look at the other side of the medal: smartphone sales market shares. This entry gives the device vendor stats for 2010, the next one will discuss OS stats.

In 2010 298 million smartphones were sold worldwide, up from 175 million in 2009, for a growth rate of 70%. Biggest growers were the Android suppliers (Samsung and HTC especially), as well as Apple. Nokia and RIM lost heavily: they grew only a sluggish 47 and 30%, respectively.

Source

All figures in this and the next entry come from Tomi Ahonen, who takes the data from the four analysis houses (Gartner, IDC, Canalys and Strategy Analytics), averages them, and peforms some secret magic on them (probably weighting based on past performance and/or comparing them with the filings of the device vendors). I use Tomi’s numbers because I prefer figures that take all analyses into account over the opinion of one particular company.

Specifically, the following articles were my sources. If you already know them by heart this post won’t tell you anything new.

  1. Full year 2009 (with 2008 comparison)
  2. Q1 2010
  3. Q2 2010
  4. Q3 2010
  5. Q4 2010 and full year 2010.

I had to guesstimate a few figures myself where Tomi’s stats were incomplete. These instances are indicated in the articles.

Vendors by year — absolute

Let’s start with the total sales numbers (in millions), the mother data from which all other data points are descended. In 2010 298 million smartphones were sold worldwide, up from 175 million in 2009, for a healthy 70% growth rate. Total mobile phone sales grew from 1,260 to 1,370 million, or 9%. Smartphones now constitute 22% of all mobile phones, up from 14%.

Yearly smartphone sales in millions
Vendor 2010 ch ch 2009 OSs
Nokia 100 +47% +32 68 Symbian
RIM 48 +30% +11 37 BlackBerry
Apple 48 +92% +23 25 iOS
HTC 25 +177% +16 9 Android
Samsung 24 +243% +17 7 Android, Windows, bada
Motorola 14 +100% +7 7 Android
Sony Ericsson 10 +100% +5 5 Android, Windows
LG 7 +75% +3 4 Android, Windows
Others 22 +70% +9 13
Total 298 +70% +123 175
Share 22% +8% 14% Of all mobile phones

Thus, any vendor peformance lower than 70% growth is distinctly disappointing. Nokia and RIM disappoint, even though in absolute numbers Nokia posted the strongest growth.

Relatively, Samsung performed best, and HTC did very well, too, as did most minor vendors. (Why? Android.) Apple performed somewhat better than average, but not outstandingly so.

Over 2010 as a whole Apple sold a few hundred thousand units less than RIM, so it remains the third-largest smartphone vendor, even though it passed RIM in Q3.

Vendors by year — market share

Still, the real point here is not absolute but relative growth. The point of the current smartphone game is to win market share for yourself and your platform, and this is where all vendors focus on. So how did market shares change?

Yearly smartphone sales market share
Vendor 2010 ch 2009 ch 2008
Nokia 34% -5 39% -2 41%
RIM 16% -5 21% +5 16%
Apple 16% +2 14% +7 7%
HTC 8% +3 5% 0 5%
Samsung 8% +4 4% 0 4%
Motorola 5% +1 4% +1 3%
Sony Ericsson 3% 0 3% 0 3%
LG 2% 0 2% 0 2%
Palm 0% 0 0% -2 2%
Others 8% 0 8% -9 17%
Volatility 10% 13%

My favourite metric is the volatility, the total amount of market share that changed hands (i.e. that the winners won or the losers lost). It gives a measure for how much the market is changing. The volatility was larger in 2009 (13%) than in 2010 (10%), because the first year saw the removal of many small vendors, their share mostly ending up with Apple and RIM.

In 2010 RIM lost the share it gained in 2009. I’m not sure if 2009 or 2010 is the aberration here. Apple gained a bit, but its growth is nowhere near as huge as in 2009. The winners were the Android sellers, but since their gains were rather evenly divided there’s no one big winner.

Vendors by quarter — market share

A brief look at the quarterly market shares is instructive, especially when it comes to Nokia and Apple.

Quarterly smartphone sales market share (Q2 and Q3 Sony Ericsson, LG, and Others figures are my own guesstimates.)
Vendor Q4 2010 ch Q3 2010 ch Q2 2010 ch Q1 2010
Nokia 28% -5 33% -6 39% -1 40%
Apple 16% -2 18% +4 14% -2 16%
RIM 14% -1 15% -3 18% -2 20%
Samsung 11% +1 10% +5 5% +1 4%
HTC 10% +2 8% +1 7% +1 6%
Motorola 5% 0 5% +1 4% 0 4%
Sony Ericsson 5% +2 3% 0 3% 0 3%
LG 5% +2 3% +1 2% +2 0%
Others 6% +1 5% -3 8% +1 7%
Volatility 8% 12% 5%
Absolute 99 +24% 80 +31% 61 +13% 54

Nokia lost a little market share in Q2, and a lot in Q3 and Q4. The reason is, as Tomi discovered, that Nokia has been artificially propping up its market share by selling Symbian devices for dump prices. This expensive policy was discontinued in Q3, and Nokia’s market share is now evolving down to its natural state. Nobody knows what that state is, by the way, and the Nokisoft deal will accelerate Symbian’s demise and will make Nokia’s share drop even faster.

And then there’s the curious case of Apple. All vendors showed a consistent up or down movement, but Apple lost market share in Q2 and Q4, and won in Q3.

This unusual pattern is caused by Apple’s habit of launching its single yearly device in late Q2. In Q2 everybody knows a new iPhone is coming, and sales drop. When it’s released fans line up and sales are very brisk, especially in the first full quarter of the new iPhone: Q3. In Q4 demand for all kinds of smartphones is high due to the holiday season, so Apple’s performance is less remarkable and its share drops a bit.

This pattern will persist as long as Apple continues to launch its device per year at the end of Q2.

Vendors by quarter - absolute

Finally the absolute numbers per quarter. They don’t show interesting new patterns, but they make this set of statistics complete.

Because these numbers are rather small for the smaller vendors, and because I round to the nearest whole million, the picture would be distorted in the lower ranges. Therefore I clustered all but the top five in an Others category.

Quarterly smartphone sales in millions (All Q1 figures are my own guesstimates.)
Vendor Q4 2010 ch Q3 2010 ch Q2 2010 ch Q1 2010
Nokia 28 +4% 27 +13% 24 +9% 22
Apple 16 +14% 14 +75% 8 -11% 9
RIM 14 +17% 12 +9% 11 0 11
Samsung 11 +38% 8 +166% 3 +66% 2
HTC 10 +43% 7 +40% 5 +25% 4
Others 20 +66% 12 +20% 10 +66% 6
Total 99 +24% 80 +31% 61 +13% 54

Still, these Others perform very well in Q2 and Q4. It’s an Android effect, of course: Sony Ericsson, LG, and Motorola are all Android vendors, and Sony Ericsson, especially, had a decent last quarter — the first in ages.

Q3 was the quarter of Samsung more than Apple. Meanwhile it’s become clear that of the old mobile companies, Samsung, and not Nokia, is the greatest threat to the newcomers.

In the next installment we’ll discuss OSs.

This is the blog of Peter-Paul Koch, mobile platform strategist, consultant, and trainer. You can also follow him on Twitter.
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