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Nokia still number one, but feeling heat from Samsung, Apple

Despite a drop in market share, Nokia continued to be the worldwide leader in mobile device sales, accounting for about 24% of all global sales. The second quarter of 2011 was a low point for Nokia, although the third quarter brought signs of improvement. This is according to research from Gartner.

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Dual-SIM phones in particular, and feature phones generally, maintained Nokia’s momentum in emerging markets. Gartner reckons that “heavy marketing from both Nokia and Microsoft” to push the new Lumia devices should bring more improvement in the fourth quarter of 2011. A true turnaround won’t take place, however, until the second half of 2012.

Samsung now the biggest smartphone manufacturer
The second biggest phone manufacturer by sales is Samsung. The company has also now become the number one smartphone manufacturer worldwide as its sales tripled to reach 24-million. Samsung took poll-position as a smartphone manufacturer for the first time, ahead of Nokia in Western Europe and Asia.

Gartner attributes this to the strong performance of Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones, which now cover a broad range of prices, and a weaker competitive market. Analysts expect more competition in the fourth quarter of 2011, not least because sales of the iPhone 4S, 4 and 3GS will capture share from Android manufacturers.

Apple down, but big comeback expected
Apple shipped 17 million iPhones, an annual increase of 21%, but down nearly three-million units from the second quarter of 2011 because of Apple’s new device announcement in October. Gartner believes Apple will bounce back in the fourth quarter because of its strongest ever pre-orders for the iPhone 4S in the first weekend after its announcement.

Markets such as Brazil, Mexico, Russia and China are becoming more important to Apple, representing 16% of overall sales and showing that the iPhone has a place in emerging markets, especially now that the 3GS and 4 have received price cuts.

Android now on more than half of all smartphones
The Android OS accounted for 52.5% of smartphone sales to end users in the third quarter of 2011, more than doubling its market share from the third quarter of 2010.

“Android benefited from more mass-market offerings, a weaker competitive environment and the lack of exciting new products on alternative operating systems such as Windows Phone 7 and RIM,” commented Roberta Cozza, principal research analyst at Gartner.

“Apple’s iOS market share suffered from delayed purchases as consumers waited for the new iPhone. Continued pressure is impacting RIM’s performance, and its smartphone share reached its lowest point so far in the US market, where it dropped to 10%.”

Strong smartphone growth in China, Russia
Smartphone sales to end users reached 115-million units in the third quarter of 2011, up 42% from the third quarter of 2010. Sequentially, smartphone sales slowed to seven percent growth from the second quarter of 2011 to the third quarter of 2011. Smartphone sales accounted for 26% of all mobile phone sales, growing only marginally from 25% in the previous quarter.

“Strong smartphone growth in China and Russia helped increase overall volumes in the quarter, but demand for smartphones stalled in advanced markets such as Western Europe and the US as many users waited for new flagship devices featuring new versions of the key operating systems,” said Cozza. “Slowdowns also occurred in Latin America and the Middle East and Africa.”

440m phones sold worldwide
Worldwide, sales of mobile devices totalled 440.5-million units in the third quarter of 2011, up 5.6% from the same period last year, according to Gartner. Non-smartphone devices performed well, driven by demand in emerging markets for low-cost devices from white-box manufacturers, and for dual-subscriber identity module (SIM) devices.

“Our forecast for the end of the year remains broadly in line at a worldwide level as regions such as Asia/Pacific and the Middle East and Africa make up for weaker performance in the Western European market,” said Annette Zimmermann, a principal analyst at Gartner based in Munich.