It’s time for the Q1 and Q2 overview of smartphone sales. Headlines: Nokia falls apart; Android vendors pick up the pieces. Most of this entry was written two weeks ago, before the MotoGoogle and webOS bombshells.
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As usual these stats are based on the work of Tomi Ahonen; if you read his posts religiously you won’t find much new information here. I missed his Q1 post (I was busy), so I didn’t publish an update in May. Now I give you Q1 and Q2 rolled into one entry. I promise to pay more attention in November, when we can expect the Q3 report.
So here are the sales numbers, from Apple’s 20.3 million down to ZTE’s 2.7 million. And yes, Apple is the largest smartphone vendor, but that’s because Nokia insists on committing suicide in the messiest possible way and hemorrhages market share like Netscape 4 did back in 2001, diving below Apple and Samsung. Apple didn’t grow all that much.
Instead, both absolutely and relatively Samsung, and not Apple, is last quarter’s the big winner. Apple will have Samsung to contend with from now on — a match it cannot win without an iPhone Nano.
|Vendor||Q2 2011||ch||ch||Q1 2011||ch||ch||Q4 2010|
The growth of the smartphone market as a whole is definitely slackening. In Q4 2010 the market grew 24% quarter-over-quarter, in Q3 even 31%. No such numbers now. Economic crisis? Increasing mismatch between what’s counted as a smartphone and what should be? Many people switching from Symbian to dumbphones? I don’t know.
Huawei and ZTE are new members of the smartphone club. Until now they were hidden in Other, but they have grown enough to be recognised on their own merits. Huawei, especially, delivered a splendid performance last quarter, with the highest relative growth of all smartphone vendors. I pretend they entered the market in Q1; of course they already made smartphones before that, but I don’t have 2010 figures.
Motorola and Sony Ericsson manage to grow with the market, but that’s about it. LG, on the other hand manages to grow somewhat stronger; passing Sony Ericsson in the process.
It’s in the Big Five that most of the change is happening. HTC is growing, while RIM is shrinking. Will HTC promote from 5th to 4th place in Q3? It’s not impossible; RIM is in trouble. Where in Q1 several Android vendors saw decreased sales (and Nokia saw lots of them), in Q2 the only loser (apart from Nokia) is RIM.
The year-over-year comparison shows the same basic picture. Samsung is the biggest winner with nearly 500% growth, followed by Other (Android). I do not have Q2 2010 figures for most Android vendors, so the Other category is rather large, but the general idea is clear.
|Vendor||Q2 2011||ch||ch||Q2 2010|
Enough absolute numbers. The real question is how the vendors’ market shares changed.
Despite posting huge growth and profit figures, Apple’s market share hasn’t changed all that much in the past year. Slightly less than one out of five smartphones sold was an iPhone around this time last year, just after Apple’s last big jump forward. The ratio is about the same now. Only an iPhone Nano to address the mid-range and low-end market that Samsung serves so efficiently can enable Apple to make the next jump.
|Vendor||Q2 2011||ch||Q1 2011||ch||Q4 2010||ch||Q3 2010|
In Q2 Samsung grows by 4 points, Apple by one. The rest of the growth goes to HTC and the Chinese Android vendors. Last quarter’s growth is clearly Android-related. So is the Q1 growth, but less distinctly.
Only Nokia and RIM lose. Nokia loses a lot.
A comparison with Q2 2010 highlights the changes that have taken place. Samsung wins hugely; Apple and various Android vendors decently. RIM loses one third, and Nokia 60%.
Only Motorola does not profit from Nokia’s downfall. That’s because it’s strong only in the US, where Nokia is weak and doesn’t have much market share to give away.
|Vendor||Q2 2011||ch||Q2 2010|
I have no figures for Huawei and ZTE in 2010, so I count them in Other.
In the OS competition, Android is the overwhelming winner and Symbian the overwhelming loser. Bada comes along nicely, iOS is more or less stable, and BlackBerry and Windows lose. (The latter doesn’t have much market share to lose, but it still manages.)
|OS||Q2 2011||ch||Q1 2011||ch||Q4 2010||ch||Q3 2010|
|Windows Phone 7||1%||-1||2%||0||2%||+2||-|
Android sits at 45%. iOS, Symbian, and BlackBerry combined sit at 47%. It’s likely that in Q3 Android will be bigger than the other Big Four combined, if it doesn’t conquer an outright majority.
Samsung bada is already bigger than the combined small OSs, which include all Windows flavours. Will bada ever contest BlackBerry for the 4th place? Not right now, but in the long term anything is possible.
Seen year-over-year the rise of Android and fall of Symbian are even more dramatic. Basically Symbian lost over a quarter of the entire smartphone market, and Android won almost the same amount. iOS and bada are doing well, too, BlackBerry and Windows are dropping. (Formally Windows Phone entered the market, so it wins a point, but Windows as a whole loses one point, or one-third of its market share.)
|OS||Q2 2011||ch||Q2 2010|
|Windows Phone 7||1%||+1||-|
This year’s theme is clear: Android’s overpowering army is overwhelming poor iOS.
How is that overpowering Android army composed? The Android market is very volatile. Samsung and HTC each sold about one quarter of all Android phones. Still, a year ago they each sold about one third.
Keep an eye on the third position. In Q3 2010 Motorola was the third-largest Android vendor, in Q4 Sony Ericsson, and in the last two quarters LG. All three are threatened by the new vendors, though, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Huawei (or maybe ZTE) holds the third position at the end of the year.
|Vendor||Q2 2011||ch||Q1 2011||ch||Q4 2010||ch||Q3 2010|
It is the smaller Android vendors, Huawei, ZTE and the others, that profit most from the current Android wave. Despite its growing overall share, Samsung merely followed the Android market this quarter, while traditional sellers HTC, LG, Sony Ericsson, and Motorola lost market share.
So not only is Q2 the Android Quarter, it’s also the Small (cheap) Android Vendor Quarter. Android, more than any other smartphone platform, is reaching into the mid-range and low-end markets.
The other platforms will also have to release cheap devices if they want to remain relevant next to Android. In that respect bada performs fine, but iOS, Windows, and BlackBerry have a problem (in that order). Apple’s counter-move has been clear for over a year now: the iPhone Nano. I’m less certain what RIM and Microsoft should do.
Year-over-year it’s even clearer where the market has headed. Samsung and HTC lose a lot. LG and Sony Ericsson win some. Motorola loses half its market share. Having a US-only brand does not bode well for the future (see also Palm).
(I wrote the preceding paragraph two weeks ago. Meanwhile it’s become even more clear that being a US-only brand makes you vulnerable.)
|Vendor||Q2 2011||ch||Q3 2010|
Again, the big winners are the new, cheap Android vendors.
Finally, here’s a divison of the operating systems by vendor. It’s only a rough estimate: I didn’t want to work with fractions. Samsung’s and HTC’s Android figures are more like 11% each, but I had to put those two Windows points somewhere.
All small vendors are Android-only, and among the Big Five, HTC is in the same position. (Let’s ignore Windows. Everybody does.) The other four each have their own operating system. (A lousy one for Nokia, but still.)
In the long term this is not tenable, unless the Android companies agree to become commodity vendors and to give up a large part of their uniqueness. The recent acquisition of Motorola by Google only serves to emphasise that problem. Besides, there’s the patent-related stress Android is under.
Finally, but this is a personal feeling, Android is doing too little for the web. I’ve been having my doubts about Android WebKit’s rate of improvement for a while now, and secretly count BlackBerry WebKit, and not Android WebKit, as the second-best mobile browser after Safari. I’m not sure if this is entirely fair, and if it is, whether vendors share these concerns, but I thought I’d mention it.
As I already discussed, the other vendors can choose between Windows Phone, webOS, or MeeGo. It’ll be interesting to see who will pick up webOS after HP’s bombshell. If it’s an exclusive agreement the others will have no choice but to look at Windows Phone and MeeGo again.
It’s clear that the smartphone OS battle is far from done and dusted. The current situation is more like a temporary cease-fire to feast on the rotting carcass of Symbian and assimilate last week’s portentous events. Android is doing well in the stats right now, but I’m fairly certain that the second half of 2011 (i.e. the upcoming Q3 and Q4) will turn out to be its heyday.
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