Apple, Samsung, HTC To Dominate Cellphone Sales - InformationWeek

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7/14/2011
11:58 PM
Ed Hansberry
Ed Hansberry
Commentary
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Apple, Samsung, HTC To Dominate Cellphone Sales

Second-quarter earnings reports are expected to reflect big changes in the handset market, with Nokia and LG declining and Android phone makers on the rise, say analysts.

Nokia has been the number one smartphone maker for well over a decade, but that reign is coming to an end. Many think it actually came to an end in the quarter ended June 30, 2011, when it was surpassed by Samsung.

For 2010, Nokia was the leading cellphone maker and the margin wasn't small at all. Nokia moved around 460 million phones, while Samsung sold approximately 280 million handsets. While Nokia will still be the number one cellphone maker for now, it is expected to drop to the number two smartphone maker.

There are, of course, two factors at play here. First is Nokia's platform. Symbian has been on the way out for a while. Nokia dabbled with Maemo, then Meego, and finally locked in with Microsoft by adopting Windows Phone 7. None of those three platforms have significant market share and none of them did anything to help Nokia in the first half of 2011. Symbian, meanwhile, has lost a lot of its appeal to fans and developers. That is driving Nokia down. The second thing in play is Android. It is one of the, if not the, key platforms Samsung uses--and it is driving its share up at an astonishing pace.

According to Reuters, Samsung's growth will continue for some time. After it surpasses Nokia in smartphone sales in Q2, it is expected to surpass Nokia in total phones in 2012.

While the numbers are much smaller, Apple should move around 16.9 million iPhones, double what it did in the same quarter last year. They moved more in Q1 2011, but that was when Verizon launched the iPhone, boosting sales as a new market opened up for the device. Sales of iPhone 4 devices will probably continue to trend down until the iPhone 5 launches later this year, which will undoubtedly start another cycle of explosive growth for Apple, as each previous release has done.

HTC enjoyed substantial growth as well, also powered by Android. It sold 11.4 million devices, 111% better than last year.

Earnings for these companies will be announced in the coming days and we'll be able to see exactly where these and other handset makers landed. In Q1, RIM held on to fifth place. I'll be curious to see if it can stay in the top five--or will HTC or Motorola, both making Android devices, push it out of the list?

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