Apple Crowned Smartphone King: IDC - InformationWeek

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8/4/2011
03:34 PM
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Apple Crowned Smartphone King: IDC

Apple, Samsung, and HTC all saw impressive second quarters, while Nokia and RIM lost ground, latest stats show.

Slideshow: Verizon iPhone 4 Teardown
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Slideshow: Verizon iPhone 4 Teardown
The smartphone market grew at an astonishing 65.4% rate during the second quarter of 2011, IDC reported Thursday. Approximately 106.5 million devices were shipped during the quarter, up from 64.4 million a year ago, making 2Q11 the third quarter in a row to see more than 100 million smartphones shipped worldwide.

Apple, according to IDC, captured the overall smartphone lead with its 20.3 million iPhones sold, giving it 19.1% of the market. Year-over-year, its presence grew by 141.7%. (Keep in mind, this reflects device shipments, not OS marketshare.)

"The smartphone market crowned a new leader in 2Q11, and its name is Apple," said Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC, in a statement. "Ever since the first iPhone launched in 2007, Apple has made market-setting strides in hardware, software, and channel development to grab mindshare and market share. Demand has been so strong that even models that have been out for one or two years are still being sought out. With an expected refresh later this year, volumes are set to reach higher levels."

Apple can't afford to rest on its laurels, though, as the rest of the pack isn't too far behind.

In the second quarter, Samsung sold 17.3 million smartphones for 16.2% of the market, Nokia sold 16.7 million smartphones (15.7% of the market), RIM sold 12.4 million smartphones (11.6%), and HTC sold 11.7 million smartphones (11.0%). The remaining 26% of the market is attributed to "other," according to IDC, which lumps together companies such as LG, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, and HP.

"The smartphone market leadership change signifies the parity that comes with a fast-growing market such as smartphones," said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC. "There is no runaway leader in the market, which means there could easily be further Top 5 vendor changes to come."

IDC credits Apple's distribution network (more than 200 carriers in more than 200 countries) for the bulk of its iPhone success story. Samsung is catching up fast, though. Samsung's year-over-year growth was a whopping 381%, far larger than any other vendor's growth. This is due in large part to the success of its Galaxy S line of smartphones, with sales reaching the tens of millions. The speed at which HTC is delivering new and innovative models helped it increase its standing. With 3-D and 4G models already on store shelves, HTC has done a good job at tackling its larger competitors.

The news isn't as good for Nokia and RIM, however. Nokia ceded the number one position for the first time in the history of IDC's Mobile Phone Tracker. Despite getting several Symbian handsets to market, demand for its smartphones has dropped off a cliff as Nokia fans wait for the company's first Windows Phone 7 handsets.

According to IDC, RIM saw the lowest growth year-over-year of any of the vendors, which can be attributed to the sheer lack of new models. The company spent the first four months of 2011 focusing on the PlayBook tablet rather than new smartphones. IDC said, however, that demand for RIM's smartphones remains to be "healthy."

IDC's numbers clearly show that the companies doing the most innovating are the ones marching to the top of the pack.

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