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Who's The Champ? Apple, Microsoft, Nokia Report Smartphone Sales

Apple disclosed sales figures of the iPhone for the holiday quarter. The total amounts to 4.4 million iPhones sold. That's a huge increase over the year-ago quarter, but down significantly from the 6.9 million 3G iPhones sold during the previous quarter. At the same time, Microsoft says 2008 saw 20 million Windows Mobile smartphones sold. Nokia sold 113 million phones, but how many of them were "smart"?
Apple disclosed sales figures of the iPhone for the holiday quarter. The total amounts to 4.4 million iPhones sold. That's a huge increase over the year-ago quarter, but down significantly from the 6.9 million 3G iPhones sold during the previous quarter. At the same time, Microsoft says 2008 saw 20 million Windows Mobile smartphones sold. Nokia sold 113 million phones, but how many of them were "smart"?According to Apple's first-quarter results (which spanned the holiday shopping season),"Unit sales of iPhone 3G have been significantly greater than sales of the first-generation iPhone. During the first quarter of iPhone 3G availability ended September 27, 2008, 6.9 million units were sold, exceeding the 6.1 million first-generation iPhone units sold in the prior five quarters combined. Unit sales of iPhone 3G continued to be significant in the quarter ended December 27, 2008, with 4.4 million iPhones sold."

If we simply add those numbers up, we get a grand total of 17.4 million iPhones sold between June 2007 and Dec. 27, 2008. (I attempted to get an official number from Apple, but my calls weren't immediately returned.) We know that at least 11.3 million of those iPhones were sold between July 11 and Dec. 27. Not a bad figure at all. Total for 2008? Somewhere between 13 million and 14 million.

Next up is Microsoft. It says there were 11 smartphone models running the Windows Mobile platform that sold more than 1 million units each. It didn't break down exactly which those were, but think Samsung's BlackJack and BlackJack II, Palm's Treo 700p, and the like. In total, Microsoft claims more than 20 million smartphones were sold in 2008 with its software on board. That trounces Apple's 13 million to 14 million total iPhone sales for 2008.

Last, industry leader Nokia. It sold 113 million mobile phones in the fourth quarter. Nokia shipped approximately 8 million Nokia N series and more than 3 million Nokia E series devices during the fourth quarter of 2008. Both the N and E series phones run the S60 operating system, which is deemed "smart." That makes Nokia's minimum smartphone sales for the fourth quarter 11 million. Nokia also said it sold 15.1 million "converged devices" in the fourth quarter. Other phones in Nokia's lineup run S60 - it's not reserved just for N series and E series. How many of these "converged" devices actually run S60, though, Nokia didn't say. If we say half (total guess on my part), that makes Nokia's smartphone sales for 2008 total more than 18 million.

For the moment, it appears that Microsoft sold the most smartphones on a platform basis. Obviously, Microsoft's OEM partners are the ones who sold the actual hardware. Individually, they don't come close to Apple's and Nokia's sales numbers. Speaking of Nokia, we can't say with authority if it bested either Apple or Microsoft until it clarifies what platform the "converged devices" are running.

Did any of the platforms really "win"? Well, that depends on how you look at it. Nokia lost significant market share during the most recent quarter, and S60 is starting to become a little long in the tooth. For Apple to nearly equal the number of S60 sales with its iPhone is impressive, considering that it has only been around for 18 months.

For the 2008 calendar year, I'd say it's too close to call between Microsoft and Nokia. Apple is going to have to settle for third place.

Editor's Choice
Mary E. Shacklett, President of Transworld Data
James M. Connolly, Contributing Editor and Writer