The global market for smartphones is growing rapidly, with all companies showing an increase in the number of units shipped in 2010. Some companies, however, have experienced significantly more growth than others, and consequently the outlook of who the major players are at the beginning of 2011 looks significantly different than it did at the beginning of 2010.
Analysis by the International Data Corporation (IDC) sheds light on how the market has changed.
Nokia and Research in Motion (RIM) both experienced general growth from 2009-2010, with Nokia's shipments increasing from 67.7 million to 100.3 million, and RIM's from 34.5 million to 48.8 million. That's over 40% growth for both companies.
Despite these gains, both companies' market shares decreased. Nokia possessed 39% of the market in 2009, and fell to 33.1% in 2010. RIM dropped from 19.9% to 16.1%.
These decreases can be directly attributed to huge leaps made by Samsung and HTC. Both were relatively small players in the mobile market in 2009, but Samsung's release of the Galaxy S line and HTC’s lineup of Android devices helped seriously bolster the companies' market shares.
HTC experienced 165.4% growth between 2009 and 2010, raising shipments from 8.1 million to 21.5 million. Samsung showed an even more impressive increase, with year over year growth of 318.2%, as shipments shot up from 5.5 million in 2009 to 23 million in 2010. All of this expansion by Samsung and HTC naturally led to an increase in market share in 2010, with Samsung boosting its presence from 3.2% to 7.6%, and HTC from 4.7% to 7.1%.
Apple was the only major vendor that didn't experience a major shakeup in its place in the market, as the company behind the iPhone remained relatively static, with a 16.1% market share during Q4 2009 and 2010. That's not to say that Apple didn't grow, as the company increased shipments from 25.1 million to 47.5 million; the growth just kept Apple at almost exactly the same position in the market, in terms of numbers.
IDC noted in its analysis that Apple had changed its market position in a way, writing that Apple had "made further inroads into the enterprise market, with more companies adding Apple to their approved smartphone list and increased development of corporate-centered applications."
Notably absent from the list of top 5 smartphone makers are Motorola and LG.
Considering all of this data, Senior Research Analyst at IDC Ramon Llamas provides the market outlook: "IDC expects vendors to provide more midrange and low-end smartphones at lower prices to reach the mass market. In the same manner, even high-end devices will become available at lower prices. This will result in greater competition and more selection for users."
As companies jockey for position and Samsung and HTC become more competitive, customers should see prices drop while technological innovation abounds.
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