Press Release

Egham, UK, December 4, 2008 View All Press Releases

Gartner Says Worldwide Smartphone Sales Reached Its Lowest Growth Rate With 11.5 Per Cent Increase in Third Quarter of 2008

Apple Overtakes Microsoft As No. 3 Smartphone OS Vendor

In the third quarter of 2008, the global smartphone market reached its weakest year-on-year growth since Gartner, Inc. began tracking the industry. Worldwide smartphone sales to end-users totalled 36.5 million units in the third quarter of 2008, an 11.5 per cent increase from the same period in 2007.

"The current economic climate is negatively impacting sales
of higher end devices,” said Roberta Cozza, principal analyst at Gartner. “Going forward, we should expect the smartphone device market to continue to grow but at a slower pace. Although leading mobile operators are subsidising more smartphones, to reach lower prices they tie the device to two year contracts with monthly data plan rates which remain too expensive for the mainstream user.”

Nokia maintained its No. 1 position with 42.4 per cent market share in the third quarter of 2008, but for the first time it recorded a decline in sales of 3 per cent year-on-year (see Table 1). “Nokia is feeling the pressure from increased competition in the consumer smartphone market,” said Ms Cozza. “The company introduced solid Nseries products with top features, but its lack of a commercial touch-screen device in its smartphone portfolio prevented Nokia from capitalising from consumer demand for this feature. The recently announced N97 is a much needed evolution for the n9x series of products. It is unfortunate that the device will not be available before the first half of 2009 as this is a competitive product in today’s market.”

Table 1
Worldwide: Preliminary
Smartphone Sales to End Users byVendor, 3Q08 (Thousands of Units)

Company

3Q08

Sales

3Q08 Market Share (%)

3Q07

Sales

3Q07 Market Share (%)

3Q08- 3Q07 Growth (%)

Nokia

15,472

42.4

15,964

48.7

-3.1

Research In Motion

                    5,800

15.9

                     3,192

9.7

81.7

Apple

4,720

12.9

1,104

3.4

327.5

HTC

1,656

4.5

1,315

4.0

25.9

Sharp

1,239

3.4

1,535

4.7

-19.3

Others

7,626

20.9

9,643

29.4

-20.9

Total

36,515

100.0

32,753

100.0

11.5

Note: Under the name HTC, Gartner counts only the company's own-branded devices. The devices that HTC designs for mobile operators are shown separately under the operators' names in these statistics.
Source: Gartner (December 2008)

Sales of Research In Motion’s BlackBerry smartphones increased 81.7 per cent in the third quarter of 2008. RIM continued to expand its presence within the consumer segment and refreshed its portfolio with new models and form factors. RIM sales will receive a boost from its new products in the fourth quarter. Analysts said the Storm is RIM’s most important product launch to date and has the potential to be a major product for the company.

Apple regained its No. 3 position in the global smartphone market and improved its market share to 12.9 per cent in the third quarter of 2008. Apple’s shipments into the channel during the third quarter of 2008 approached 7 million units. However, Apple built up around 2 million units of inventory and Gartner’s sales unit estimate reflects this. Apple’s sales increased more than four times compared to the same period in 2007 as a result of wider geographical availability, new business model and lower pricing.

For the smartphone operating system (OS) market, Symbian commanded 49.8 per cent of the global sales to end users in the third quarter of 2008 (see Table 2) and for the first time its share went below the 50 per cent mark. Nokia’s decline in smartphone sales during the quarter, and continued weakness of the Japanese mobile device market, have impacted Symbian’s share. Gartner expects Symbian share to continue to erode next year but maintain its leading position in the market.

Table 2
Worldwide: Preliminary Smartphone Sales to End Users by Operating System, 3Q08 (Thousands of Units)

Company

3Q08

Sales

3Q08 Market Share (%)

3Q07

Sales

3Q07 Market Share (%)

3Q08- 3Q07 Growth (%)

Symbian

18,179

49.8

20,664

63.1

-12.0

Research In Motion

5,800

15.9

3,192

9.7

81.7

Mac OS X

         4,720

12.9

1,104

3.4

327.5

Microsoft Windows Mobile

              4,053

 

11.1

              4,180

 

12.8

 

-3.0

Linux

2,622

7.2

2,884

8.8

-9.1

Palm OS

780

2.1

383

1.2

103.3

Others

361

1.0

345

1.1

4.6

Total

36,515

100.0

32,753

100.0

11.5

Note: The "Others" category includes sales of Sharp Sidekick devices based on the Danger platform.
Source: Gartner (December 2008)

The success of iPhone 3G sales in the third quarter of 2008 propelled the Mac OS X to the No. 3 position in the global OS provider rankings. For the first time, iPhone sales exceeded sales of Microsoft Windows Mobile devices worldwide and in North America. In the shorter term, open-source initiatives like Android and Symbian Foundation will challenge Windows Mobile’s licensing model. In addition, the lack of a competitive user interface will continue to limit Microsoft’s mobile device usability when facing competitive consumer smartphones.

“In 2009, application portfolios will become one of the key strategic considerations for smartphone market players and, if successful, they deliver an alternative revenue stream and will improve consumer stickiness,” Ms Cozza said.

On a regional level, North America was the fastest growing market, with a 68 per cent increase in the third quarter of 2008. RIM and Apple did particularly well in the region with both vendors accounting for more than 70 per cent of the smartphone market in the third quarter of 2008. Apple regained second position behind RIM with 25.4 per cent market share. Smartphone sales in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) increased 14 per cent year-on-year. The region saw Nokia’s share decline nearly 8 percentage points in the third quarter of 2008 but still maintaining its leading position and saw Apple gain the No. 2 spot with 15.6 per cent share, moving in front of HTC and RIM. 

The markets in Asia/Pacific and Japan declined 11 per cent and 23 per cent, respectively in the third quarter of 2008. In Latin America, despite the decline in sales for all handsets, the smartphone market grew 56 per cent in the third quarter of 2008. The sales were bolstered by the official introduction of Apple’s iPhone 3G across a dozen of countries.

Additional information is available in the Gartner report "Market Share: Smartphones, Worldwide, 3Q08."

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