Mobile
Commentary
12/18/2007
10:26 AM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
Commentary
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iPhone Second Only To RIM In U.S. Smartphone Market

Canalys released some interesting stats regarding smartphone sales in the third quarter. The iPhone has jumped to the number two spot, grabbing 27% of the market, handily beating out Windows Mobile, Linux, Symbian, and Palm devices. Will RIM ever lose the to

Canalys released some interesting stats regarding smartphone sales in the third quarter. The iPhone has jumped to the number two spot, grabbing 27% of the market, handily beating out Windows Mobile, Linux, Symbian, and Palm devices. Will RIM ever lose the top spot, and will Symbian ever regain its footing?The figures paint a changing picture. Symbian, which commissioned the report, still has the lion's share of the smartphone market worldwide. There are some detailed graphics here that let you see in chart form just how predominant Symbian is elsewhere. The North American market, however, is far more fractured than any other. Where Symbian typically represents 70% to 80% or more of all smartphones sold in regions such as Europe, the Middle East, Japan, and China, in North America it is just 5%. The rest of the North American market is divided up by Palm, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile and now the iPhone, which is for sale just in the United States.

Roughly Drafted has created some colorful analysis points.

* Palm is dead everywhere but in the North America, where it is falling sharply. * Symbian is huge everywhere besides North America, but obviously has the most to lose with the iPhone being released around the world next year. Don't expect Symbian to post these numbers on their Web site as they have in the past. * Microsoft's mobile strategy is failing miserably. They don't crack 10 percent anywhere but in North America, where they are behind RIM and iPhone and dropping. * BlackBerry, while strong in North America, has a much smaller global market share. * Linux is big in China and Japan but insignificant elsewhere. * The iPhone has grabbed 27% of the North American smartphone market. This is obviously on the sharp upturn. * Apple is poised to be the No. 1 U.S. smartphone vendor next year if trends keep up.

I don't agree with all their statements, but some of them aren't far off the mark. I need to see some specific statistics, including year-over-year and sequential quarterly sales figures, to be convinced that Microsoft's mobile strategy is "failing miserably." I wouldn't be surprised to see that the share of Windows Mobile devices in the United States is actually rising, given the vast number of them for sale at attractive price points.

One point not brought up by Canalys, however, is that enterprise sales matter when it comes to market share. The reason RIM is in the No. 1 spot for smartphones is because they are deployed by enterprises in large numbers. IT shops are more apt to purchase BlackBerrys in bulk than they are other types of smartphones. Why? RIM's e-mail integration, which is its bread and butter.

I don't see RIM losing the No. 1 spot in the United States for some time. How smartphone sales will shape up in the future if and when a 3G version of the iPhone is available worldwide will be interesting to see, especially with Android set to enter the market in mid-2008.

What I want to know is what is Symbian's strategy to regain some market share in the United States, and how is it going to fend off Android?

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