Worldwide mobile phone sales to end users grew 17 per cent during the first quarter of 2010, driven by a near 50 per cent growth in sales to end users of smartphones.
Research firm Gartner, which produced the figures, said worldwide mobile phone sales to end users totalled 314.7 million from January to March, compared to 269.1 million in the same period of 2009. Smartphone sales increased from 36.5 million to 54.3 million year-on-year, a growth of 48.7 per cent.
Gartner said smartphone growth was predominantly in mature markets, with wider product availability and mass market price tags.
Vendor market share of the global sales to end users remained fairly stable during the first quarter compared to a year earlier, although top dog Nokia lost 1.2 per cent of its market share, Sony Ericsson lost 2.3 per cent and Motorola’s market share more than halved from 6.2 per cent to three per cent.
BlackBerry manufacturer Research In Motion (RIM) and Apple were the big winners, as smartphones accounted for 17.3 per cent of all mobile handset sales in the first quarter of 2010, up from 13.6 per cent in the same period in 2009. RIM increased its market share of terminal sales to end users by 0.7 per cent, while Apple was up 1.2 per cent.
“In the first quarter of 2010, smartphone sales to end users saw their strongest year-on-year increase since 2006,” said Gartner research vice president Carolina Milanesi. “This quarter saw RIM, a pure smartphone player, make its debut in the top five mobile device manufacturers, and saw Apple increase its market share by 1.2 percentage points.
“Android’s momentum continued into the first quarter of 2010, particularly in North America, where sales of Android-based phones increased 707 per cent year-on-year.”
Apple’s iPhone operating system (OS) and the Android platform claimed a larger percentage of worldwide smartphone sales to end users by operating system during the first quarter, according to Gartner’s figures. Market share for the iPhone OS grew from 10.5 per cent to 15.4 per cent, while Android market share rocketed from 1.6 per cent to 9.6 per cent.
Symbian market share shrunk from 48.8 per cent to 44.3 per cent, with Windows Mobile and Linux also down, from 10.2 per cent to 6.8 per cent and seven per cent to 3.7 per cent respectively.
“To compete in such a crowded market, manufacturers need to tightly integrate hardware, user interface, and cloud and social networking services if their solutions are to appeal to users,” said Gartner principal research analyst Roberta Cozza. “Just adding a QWERTY keyboard will not make a device fit the communication habits of today’s various consumer segments.”