The worldwide mobile phone market grew 65.4% year over year in the second quarter of 2011 (2Q11), marking the third consecutive quarter where total shipments exceeded 100 million units.
According to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, vendors shipped 106.5 million units in 2Q11 compared to 64.4 million units in the second quarter of 2010. The 65.4% growth was on par with IDC's forecast of 67.3% for the quarter and below the 84.0% year-over-year growth in 1Q11.
"The smartphone market crowned a new leader in 2Q11, and its name is Apple," said Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC's Mobile Phone Technology and Trends team. "Ever since the first iPhone launched in 2007, Apple has made market-setting strides in hardware, software, and channel development to grab mindshare and market share. Demand has been so strong that even models that have been out for one or two years are still being sought out. With an expected refresh later this year, volumes are set to reach higher levels."
"The smartphone market leadership change signifies the parity that comes with a fast-growing market such as smartphones," said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker. "There is no runaway leader in the market, which means there could easily be further Top 5 vendor changes to come."
For 2011, IDC maintains that the worldwide smartphone market will grow 55.0% over 2010. "The first half of the year has demonstrated strong growth for the smartphone market," added Llamas. "The second half of the year will bring new flagship models and refreshed user experiences to market. These will keep smartphones well out in front of the market, and keep growth on an upward trajectory."
Apple's success can be directly attributed to its distribution (more than 200 carriers in more than 200 countries), increased manufacturing capacity, and solid demand within emerging and developed markets from both consumers and business users. Apple's emergence as the number one smartphone vendor worldwide comes at a time when former worldwide leader Nokia is in the midst of a major transition. However, Apple has yet to top Nokia's single-quarter volume record of 28.1 million units. But given Apple's momentum in the smartphone market, it may not be a question of whether Apple will beat that milestone, but when.
Samsung realized the largest year-over-year growth of any vendor among the top five, and key to its continued success was the global popularity of its flagship Galaxy S smartphones. What originally began as a series of high-end smartphones has proliferated well into the mass-market, but has not strayed too far from its high-end roots. Moreover, its steady cadence of device releases and updates has kept Samsung's smartphones well out in front of the competition. Samsung's bada-powered smartphones likewise grew, while demand for its Windows Phone smartphones has cooled off.
Nokia ceded the number one position for the first time in the history of IDC's Mobile Phone Tracker, with smartphone volumes dipping below the 20 million unit mark for the first time since 3Q09. Even as the company released new smartphones running on Symbian^3, demand for its products running on the aged Symbian platform has shifted to other devices. At the same time, Nokia must be considered as a company in transition, as it recently unveiled its first MeeGo-powered smartphone and Windows Phone-powered smartphones, designated as the primary operating system for Nokia moving forward, have yet to reach the market.
Research In Motion posted the lowest year-over-year growth of all the vendors in the top five, but still shipped enough BlackBerry smartphones to be the number four vendor worldwide.
The company has released only a few new models so far this year, leaving the bulk of its shipments to be comprised of older, less expensive models. That has allowed its competitors to grab mindshare and market share with multiple new models. In addition, many vendors have targeted business users with enterprise-grade smartphones, which have long been RIM's stronghold. Still, demand for BlackBerry smartphones remained healthy in the face of competition.
HTC marked another upward quarter, having launched and announced several new smartphones to the market. These featured 3D displays and 4G speeds, attesting to HTC's ability to bring devices with the latest and forward-thinking technologies. For a company that got its start providing carrier-branded smartphones, HTC's success at building a strong and readily identifiable brand stems directly from a broad and deep selection of devices, a steady stream of device releases, and a warm reception among carriers and end-users. With a goal of shipping more than 13 million units in 3Q11, HTC is well poised to reach its goal of shipping 50 million units for the year.