The worldwide smartphone market grew 79.7% year-over-year in the first quarter of 2011 (1Q11), driven by a combination of vendors releasing highly anticipated models, widespread availability of older smartphones at lower prices, and sustained end-user demand, according to the IDC research group (http://www.idc.com). Apple reached a new record shipment volume in a single quarter, and inched closer to market leader Nokia with fewer than six million units separating the two companies.
The company posted market-beating year-over-year growth and recorded triple-digit growth in two key markets: the United States, with the release of its CDMA-enabled iPhone, and Greater China. Additionally, the company enlisted South Korean Telecom and Saudi Telecom as carrier providers of the iPhone.
According to IDC, Apple shipped 18.7 million iPhones in the first quarter of 2011, compared to 8.7 million in the year-ago quarter. The iPhone’s market share has jumped from 15.7% to 18.7% in the time period.
Nokia currently has 24.3% of the market. In third, fourth and fifth place are RIM (13.9%), Samsung (10.8%) and HTC (8.9%). Smartphone vendors shipped a total of 99.6 million units in 1Q11, nearly double from the 55.4 million units in the first quarter of 2010, says IDC.
“Conditions in the smartphone market are creating a perfect storm for sustained smartphone growth,” says Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC’s Mobile Phone Technology and Trends team. “First, vendors are increasingly emphasizing smartphones as the key to their own growth. Second, selection has proliferated from mostly high-end devices to include more mid-range and entry-level offerings. Third, pricing has become increasingly competitive, with even high-end devices available at low price points. Finally, users continue to seek greater utility from their mobile phone beyond voice, and smartphones have been the ideal solution. Altogether, these add up to continued smartphone growth throughout the year.”
The strong demand for smartphones also means the market will remain highly competitive and fragmented, according to IDC.
“The rise of Android as a prominent mobile operating system has allowed several suppliers to gain share quickly,” adds Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. “Also, the relatively nascent state of smartphone adoption globally means there is ample room for several suppliers to comfortably co-exist, at least for the short term.”