The smartphone market under the microscope

Since Apple launched its iPhone in November 2007, it has pushed the boundaries of what consumers want on a mobile and the demand for the smart phone has increased dramatically.

According to Gartner, global sales of smartphones for 2008 reached 139.3 million devices, up 13.9% compared with 2007. In the Q4 2008, worldwide sales of smartphones to end users reached 38.1 million units, up 3.7% on Q4 2007.

Worldwide: Smartphone Sales to End Users by Vendor, 4Q08 (Thousands of Units)

What is interesting about this table is that Samsung entered the top five vendors ranking for the first time replacing Sharp. RIM recorded an increase in sales year over year. (RIM stand for Research in Motion makers of Blackberry). Nokia maintained its No. 1 position with 40.8% of the market, but in Q4 2008 its smartphone sales declined by 16.8% year-on-year. Garnet says Nokia’s smartphone range offers good value for money but they are more exposed to the competition in the market place as their Nseries loses its appeal. However they have recognised this and Nokia is set to work with Microsoft in deal set to rival the google and iPhone apps market. See my other post.

Apple is globally ranked third and they built an inventory of 2 million iPhone units in the Q3 2008. But they better watch out as there have been new smart phones launched in the market such as the RIM Storm, the T-Mobile G1 (the first product based on Google’s Android platform), and good performance from Samsung’s touchscreen products (The Tocco series). HTC had a very good quarter and grew nearly 20% year on year thanks to its sales of HTC-branded devices and operator-branded devices.

The iPhone changed market requirements for mobiles overnight and now everyone who has a smartphone expects smooth delivery of digital content, applications and Web 2.0 services. The iPhone and Android share many common features. Both have been designed and made as multi-purpose devices allowing them to use the phone not just for business but outside the office for music, games, video and picture recording. With their touch screens, state of the art Web browsers (which is based on the open source WebKit engine) and the ever growing number of applications, the services you can get from these smart phones are endless.

BlackBerry OS, Windows Mobile and Symbian/S60 were designed with different product objectives, as a business productivity tool or a unified platform for wide range of high-end phones. If they are to compete with the creme de la creme (Android and iPhone) they have got a lot of work to do.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *