This week Gartner Inc. released a report that suggested that smartphones accounted for about 40 million of the total 286.1 million handsets that were sold in the second quarter of this year. In fact, while mobile phone sales dropped by 6 percent during this time period, sales of smartphones actually increased by about 27 percent.
And while the BlackBerry and iPhone have seen strong sales, it is Nokia that still dominates the global smartphone market, and maintains a market share of 47 percent. Research in Motion, the maker of the BlackBerry, is number two with about 17 percent, while Apple’s iPhone in the number three position with 3 percent of the market.
But there is a bit more spin that can be put on these numbers. Nokia, and its Symbian operating system based smartphones, have lost a bit of share overall. Contrast this to Apple’s iPhone, which saw an increase of 500 percent over the last year, and 375 percent in the second quarter – thanks no doubt to the success of the iPhone 3GS.
Yet one item that isn’t being “factored in” yet is whether Apple will continue this gain. Personally I expect the iPhone to continue its strong run in 2009, but it has shown its card and now will have to ride out the rest of the year. Next year should be another fantastic year however, especially as Verizon will likely be introducing two models.
Beyond 2010 is anyone’s guess. The question is whether Apple can innovate enough in the smartphone market to stay ahead. Some are already writing off the Palm, despite the fact that the Pre did OK in the U.S. market. The handset didn’t fare as well in the global smartphone market, but it is way too early to signal Palm’s death. Likewise, some are already saying it is game over for Microsoft.
This one is hard to call. On the one hand Microsoft has Windows Mobile 6.5 on deck and Windows Mobile 7 in the wings. That could spur a release of a lot of devices. On the other hand Microsoft has Windows Mobile 6.5 on deck BUT has Windows Mobile 7 waiting in the wings. That could cause a bit of consumer confusion.
This is part of the reason that Microsoft and Nokia are doing business. This week the companies announced that a partnership has been reached that would see the development of Microsoft Office, business communications, collaboration and device management software for Nokia’s Symbian handsets. The official word is that this is to challenge RIM and the BlackBerry.
But across the blogosphere the real competition is being seen as the Apple iPhone and the possibility of what the Google Android OS could offer in this crowded marketplace. However, I for one am not in agreement that this is the final straw for either company to survive in this market. This is just good business sense.
No one said Microsoft released a Mac version of Office to survive. Instead it was just good business. And in the world of evolving technology, business (like politics) makes for strange bedfellows. So while Nokia is losing marketshare, and Microsoft is trying to gain, this is a smart move in the smartphone market. The companies can take on the enterprise solutions from RIM, while still face off against the upstarts that are Apple and Android.
And finally, one thing is certain. There is a whole lot more to think about when going to buy a smartphone!