According to the International Data Tracker (IDC) Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker, the worldwide mobile phone market grew a whopping 21.7% in the first quarter of 2010. Vendors shipped out 249.9 million units compared to last year’s first quarter of 242.4 million. The growing demand for smartphones has helped pull RIM up into the top five.
RIM ousted Motorola out of the top five, and we can’t say we’re surprised.
Here’s what the IDC had in their Market Outlook: a prediction of 11% growth for the year.
The Regional Analysis:
- The Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) region started the year off with a strong quarter driven mainly by Greater China. Overall, a wider array of low-cost smartphones available across the countries is driving penetration. Touchscreen-enabled devices remained a hot segment of the market, helping to drive the demand for converged mobile devices across the region.
- The Western European mobile phone market continued its rebound from the recession last quarter. The region’s growth was driven by strong smartphone shipments compared to a year ago. New high-end devices were launched while inventories were cleared from the previous quarter. This paved the way for smartphone growth in the first quarter at the expense of the traditional phone category. Nonetheless, touchscreen feature phones and low-end devices, particularly from the Korean manufacturers, sold well in the first quarter.
- As expected, the United States mobile phone market declined sequentially. User interest, however, remained high for smartphones thanks to the rollout of Google’s Nexus One and new devices from Motorola. Meanwhile, feature phone shipment volumes, which have declined steadily in previous quarters, were buoyed by sustained interest in quick messaging devices.
- In Canada, the first quarter was similar to that of the U.S. as significant Android phones, namely the Motorola Milestone and Samsung’s Galaxy Spica, were introduced. There was also a continued emphasis by suppliers on quick messaging devices in the traditional mobile phone category.
- The Latin American mobile phone market also rebounded in the first quarter due to higher demand from partners for feature phones and converged devices. Country currencies have stabilized as well, helping boost consumer spending on phones. Manufacturers and operators included social networking features in more phones sold in Latin America. Vendors are also planning for regional growth with the creation of local assembly plants.
The Top Five Phone Vendors:
Nokia started the year with a strong first-quarter unit shipment performance, driven by its top-selling 5130 and 2700 models. Shipments of 107.8 million in 1Q10 represented a nearly 16% improvement over the same quarter last year. The overall figures, however, fell short of the first-quarter high it set in 2008. Converged mobile device shipments increased sharply on a year-over-year basis due to top-selling models such as the 5230, 5800, 5530, and X6. However, average selling prices for converged mobile devices dropped to €155 in 1Q10, compared to €186 in the previous quarter. Nokia plans to ship the N8 (the first converged device to run the Symbian 3 operating system) in the third quarter. The N8 will cost €370, according to Nokia, and is expected to boost Nokia’s overall ASP.
Samsung held steady as the number two vendor worldwide for the twelfth consecutive quarter with total shipment volumes greater than those of the next three vendors combined. Driving its results was a combination of new devices launched and expansion of distribution channels within emerging markets. Moreover, efforts to bring high end devices, including touchscreen phones and converged mobile devices, pushed ASPs higher. Samsung plans to launch more Android and bada-powered devices later this year while launching more touch-enabled devices for the mass-market.
LG Electronics remained the number three vendor worldwide with year-over-year shipment growth of nearly 20%, but declining revenue and profit due to seasonality and reduced prices. The abundance of feature phones at varying price points kept the company in good stead with carriers and customers, particularly within emerging markets where LG reaped triple digit growth. Still, the lack of a broad and deep smartphone portfolio made it vulnerable to competitor share gains, particularly within North America. LG plans to introduce several Android, Windows Mobile 6.5, and Windows Phone 7 devices later this year while expanding its global platform to reach new markets.
Research In Motion makes its first appearance among the top five vendors worldwide, with total shipments surpassing those of Motorola by nearly 2 million units. Research In Motion is the only vendor in the top 5 with a singular focus on smartphones, and as a result, the company enjoys the highest average selling prices within that group. Key to its success in the first quarter was the popularity of its BlackBerry Curve 8520 and BlackBerry Bold 9700 across multiple markets as well as its global prepaid offerings. Strong consumer adoption, particularly among text-crazy teens, has also fuelled demand for BlackBerry devices.
Sony Ericsson returned to profitability in the first quarter due to cost cutting and new product introductions. The joint venture launched six new handsets including three new Greenheart models – Aspen, Elm, and Hazel – as well as the Xperia X10 and Vivaz converged devices. Average selling prices rose 12% as Sony Ericsson pruned several less-profitable products from its lineup. However, overall shipments in the first quarter fell 28%. Three new converged devices – the Vivaz pro, Xperia X10 mini, and Xperia X10 mini pro – will ship towards end of the second quarter.
Let’s hope that RIM’s vision of 6.0 and the promises of new devices can keep them growing in the right direction.