Friday, November 6, 2009

Global converged mobile device (smartphone) market continues to grow despite economic malaise

FRAMINGHAM, USA: The worldwide converged mobile device (commonly referred to as a smartphone) market continued to weather the economic recession and reached a new record for shipments during a single quarter.

According to IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, vendors shipped a total of 43.3 million units during the third quarter of 2009 (3Q09), up 4.2 percent from the 41.5 million units shipped in 3Q08, and up 3.2 percent from shipments of 41.9 million units in 2Q09.

"Demand for converged mobile devices has remained strong all year," said Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC's Mobile Devices Technology and Trends team.

"These devices provide more utility and entertainment than traditional mobile phones. Moreover, users have plenty of devices from which to choose, whether it be a multimedia powerhouse, a messaging machine, or a social networking tool.

"As users expect greater functionality from their devices beyond telephony, we believe the converged mobile device market will continue to grow faster than the overall mobile phone market."

"With the release of Android-based handsets from several different OEMs, most recently Motorola, but also HTC, Samsung LG, and Sony Ericsson, the buzz surrounding Android OS is reaching critical mass," added William Stofega, research manager with IDC's Mobile Devices Technology and Trends team.

"HTC was first to come to market with an Android device, other vendors took longer to develop their Android portfolio. However, the release of new Android devices has picked up dramatically over the past several months and the release of version 2.0 demonstrates that Android is rapidly evolving and responsive to suggestions from OEMs and developers. With an expanding portfolio of handsets and a just released update of the code, Android is poised to mount a serious challenge to the incumbent smartphone OEMs for the first time in its brief history."

Top five converged mobile device vendors
Nokia maintained its position as the overall leader in the converged mobile device market. Driving shipments forward were its popular flagship device, the N97, and an improving enterprise-focused portfolio led by the E71.

Nokia also announced its first Maemo-powered device, the N900, targeting high-end users. While its worldwide leadership position is clear, Nokia still struggles in North America.

Research In Motion continued on its upward path with BlackBerry devices available for first-time users and returning users alike. Although most of its volumes remained within its home region of North America, the company also posted significant improvement internationally, with some regions recording triple digit growth year over year.

Research In Motion launched two new devices during the quarter; the BlackBerry Tour for CDMA networks and the BlackBerry Curve 8520 for GSM networks.

Apple reached its highest volume yet in a single quarter. The nearly global availability of the iPhone 3G S sparked another round of annual replacements for Apple loyalists, while the lower price on the iPhone 3G put the device well within reach of customers wary of the price.

Although the iPhone has struggled within emerging markets, its arrival at China Unicom this year could foreshadow greater shipment volumes.

HTC finished the quarter in fourth place (with HTC shipment data excluding phones sold under another company's brand). HTC remains the largest provider of Windows Mobile-powered devices, with several new devices shipping the new Windows 6.5 operating system.

These include the HD2, Imagio, Tilt2, Pure, and Touch2. Not to be overlooked is its quickly growing Android-powered volumes with the Dream, Hero, and Magic.

Samsung returned to the top five vendors during 3Q09. Although volumes were flat from a year ago, the company saw marked improvement in Asia/Pacific, Latin America, and EMEA.

The company has been a big supporter of Windows Mobile on its devices, and features Windows 6.5 on its Intrepid device. Samsung also plans to launch its Android-powered offering with the Moment and Behold II.

Top Five Converged Mobile Device Vendors, Shipments, and Market Share, Q3 2009 (Units in Millions)Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, Nov. 2009
Note: Vendor shipments are branded shipments and exclude OEM sales for all vendors.

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