Mobile sales soar as Nokia share falls


Worldwide mobile phone device sales rose 31.8 per cent in 2010, to reach 1.6 billion units, Gartner has reported.

The growth was even larger in the smartphone market, which went up 72.1 per cent from 2009, and accounted for almost one fifth of the total mobile communications device sales in the past year.

Nokia and LG saw their market share erode in 2010, however.

Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner, attributed their decline to "the increasing pressure to refine their smartphone strategies."

Nokia's, 7.5 per cent drop from 2009, Gartner said, was not merely attributable to Nokia's continuing deficiency in high-end devices but also to the growth of legitimate white-box sales.

Nokia's share of the smartphone market dropped 6.7 percentage points from 2009.

Gartner claimed Nokia's future rests on the announcements it will make on 11 February and how well the company can execute on those plans in the limited time they have.

RIM's sales went up 38.2 per cent, to reach total of 47.5 million mobile phones sold. These sales were mainly on aggressively priced prepaid offerings.

Apple and RIM were the ones to benefit the most from strong smartphone sales, displacing Sony Ericsson and Motorola in the rankings covering device sales to end users. RIM is now fourth and Apple is in fifth.

But RIM's growth was much stronger at the beginning of the year and descended dramatically in the last two quarters. It remains to be seen if RIM will be able to keep up with competitors.

Apple sold 46.6 million units in 2010, representing 87.2 percent growth from 2009. This growth is largely due to expansion into new countries and the ending of exclusivity deals.

However, Gartner warned Apple is not targeting the mass market, which is a fundamental difference to the Android approach.

Scarcity continued to affect popular components, such as camera modules, and touch screen controllers in the fourth quarter of 2010, a situation that, Milanesi explained, will not change until at least the second quarter of 2011, because other fast-growing categories of connected consumer devices, such as media tablets, are competing for the same components.

In the smartphone operating system market, Android's 888 per cent growth was spectacular and helped the OS move to the number two position.

Symbian's market share went down in the fourth quarter of 2010 to 32.6 per cent, allowing Android to overtake Nokia's Symbian unit sales during that period.

Wider availability of the iPhone 4 helped Apple's iPhone OS platform to reach the fourth place in 2010.