Gartner: Smartphones On the March, But Android Army Can’t Save Motorola

Gartner keeps a finger on the pulse of the cell phone world, and its latest figures reveal the heart is beating strongly: Sales are up nearly 14%, and Android is leading the smartphone charge.



Gartner’s most recent statistics for global cell phone market sales reveal a number of facts about how the world of mobile phones is changing. In the second quarter of 2010, for example, the global sales figure was 325.6 million units, representing a 13.8% growth over the same quarter last year, and demonstrating that the world’s consumers think they’re safely out of the economic slowdown.

Samsung looks like a big winner, shipping 10 million more phones in the quarter than it did last year, as well as increasing its market share. RIM, despite its well-publicized woes in the middle East, managed to bump its market share from 2.7% to 3.4% by shipping an additional 3.5 million BlackBerrys. Apple, of course, scored another success with its iPhone 4 which has yet to achieve the larger part of its international roll-out, but which already helped the company push its market share from 1.9% to 2.7%, and saw an extra 3.3 million iPhones sold in the quarter over 2009’s total.

But Motorola’s highly praised Droid phones haven’t helped the company much: It’s market share slipped from 5.6% to 2.8, and it sold almost 7 million fewer devices in the quarter. Meanwhile Nokia’s managed to ship around six million more units than last year, but its market share slipped from 36.8% to 34.2%–the Finnish company just isn’t working hard enough to revolutionize its business, it seems. And though it’s still the biggest seller on the list, this is bad news, indicative of yet more woes to come, as the company has yet to wow consumers by the million with a smartphone.

The backstory to all these figures is the smartphone–it just keeps influencing sales. We know the smartphone is the future of the mobile phone (as it offers so many more ways for a company to keep making money from the consumer, for one) but Gartner’s statistics illustrate the future may be arriving sooner than you may think.

Gartner notes the smartphone market totaled 61.6 million units in Q2 2010, nearly 19% of the overall cell phone sales figure, and representing a 50.5% increase over sales for the same period in 2009. The top four smartphone makers all showed growth, year on year, and accounted for 91% of the worldwide smartphone market–these four are leaving everyone else behind, as this figure is up 6% on last year. Who are these folks? Well, their phones run Symbian, BlackBerry OS, Android, and iOS in order. RIM’s BlackBerrys are just about holding their position, but Nokia’s Symbian devices saw their market share slip dramatically from 51% to 41.2%. Apple pushed its share from 13% last year to 14.2% this year. But the biggest winner is Google’s Android system, rising from 1.8% of the market in 2009 to 17.2% this year.

Digest all this down, and what do you have:

  • More people are buying more cell phones, indicating there’s more disposable cash available for these “luxury” items than last year.
  • Nokia’s crown continues to slip, and it’s worst failings are in the rapidly growing smartphone game.
  • Motorola’s fade is continuing, despite its promising Android smartphones.
  • Apple’s iPhone is still going strong, proving that Antennagate isn’t an issue for the end-user consumer, and more of a media storm in a teacup.
  • Android is on the march, pushed by strong sales of an armload of Android OS-sporting cell phones from numerous big-name manfacturers (prompting us to wonder when will the media turn on Google, like they’ve recently done to Apple?).

And there’s one big take-away for the execs in Microsoft: Smartphone OS’s are being consolidated down to a market-dominating foursome. This excludes MS, and puts even more pressure on its upcoming Windows Phone 7 Series devices. Will they help turn around MS’s slide out of the increasingly important smartphone game?

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About the author

I'm covering the science/tech/generally-exciting-and-innovative beat for Fast Company. Follow me on Twitter, or Google+ and you'll hear tons of interesting stuff, I promise. I've also got a PhD, and worked in such roles as professional scientist and theater technician...thankfully avoiding jobs like bodyguard and chicken shed-cleaner (bonus points if you get that reference!)