Dumbphone Statistics: Oh Right, Not Everyone Has a Smartphone

It’s easy to forget that smartphones don’t dominate the mobile phone market. Here are the stats for the first quarter of 2010: The top cellphone sellers might surprise you. RIM (BlackBerry)? Nope. Apple? Forget about it. Keep guessing.

Samsung phones

Smartphones are the most exciting category in consumer electronics today, without question. They’re exploding in both ubiquity and functionality, and are clearly the next big stage for computing. So it’s understandable that we’d forget sometimes that, well, they barely make a dent in the mobile phone market. The number one smartphone maker in the country, RIM (BlackBerry), barely hits 8%. Apple? Nowhere to be found.


Dumbphones, the somewhat uncharitable name given to any phone without smartphone capabilities (namely apps and data), still dominate the playing field. ComScore’s new numbers for the first quarter of 2010 show that dumbphones are still the big sellers in this country. The top three sellers, all clustered around 22% marketshare, are Samsung, Motorola, and LG. No other company comes close–RIM is fourth, with 8.3%. Samsung and Motorola both make smartphones, and Motorola has actually had considerable success with the Droid (Samsung has so far been unable to make a decent smartphone, for reasons that are beyond me). But these numbers show that it’s dumbphones, not smartphones, that yield huge sales numbers.

The other data all goes along with those high sales of dumbphones (though, to be fair, Motorola, LG, and Nokia all lost marketshare this quarter). Verizon is still top dog in the carrier business–until the release of the Motorola Droid back in the fall, Verizon offered a laughably awful lineup of smartphones. (That’s all changed now; with the Droid, HTC Eris and Incredible, and Palm Pre Plus, Verizon has arguably the best lineup these days.) Verizon was the king of cheap plans and cheap dumbphones, and gained the biggest customer base because of that.

And what are people doing with their phones? Texting, mostly. No other activity (besides, presumably, making phone calls) comes close, with the next-most popular activities (using the browser and apps) snagging only half the numbers of texting.

We’ll continue to wax on about the crazy high-tech new phones like the HTC Evo 4G, revolutionary new software like Microsoft‘s Windows Phone 7, and the still-unbeatable hardware and software package of the iPhone, because that’s our job. That’s where the innovation is. But numbers like these serve to remind us that not everyone goes back and forth between the iPhone and the HTC Incredible when considering a new cellphone. Really, hardly anyone does.

Dan Nosowitz, the author of this post, can be followed on Twitter, corresponded with via email, and stalked in San Francisco (no link for that one–you’ll have to do the legwork yourself).


About the author

Dan Nosowitz is a freelance writer and editor who has written for Popular Science, The Awl, Gizmodo, Fast Company, BuzzFeed, and elsewhere. He holds an undergraduate degree from McGill University and currently lives in Brooklyn, because he has a beard and glasses and that's the law