Global Smartphone Market Share: Winners and Losers

IDC released Q1 global smartphone market share numbers yesterday. Here they are, with two additional columns that I think are useful.

The first column I’ve added just shows the absolute Q1 year-on-year unit growth so you don’t have to do the math in your head. The second shows these as a percentage of overall growth in units shipped. This is useful, because it shows that even when the smartphone market is viewed apart from other phones, Apple is the fastest growing vendor.

Another interesting perspective is the winners and losers.

IDC is very generous in their descriptions of Nokia and RIM, saying Nokia “may find itself in danger of ceding market share” and RIM “remained solidly in third place”. This seems blind to the share gains that the former two smartphone leaders are ceding to the rest of the field. The question is how far (Nokia) and fast (RIM) will they drop. At almost 60% of the market, their share offers a lot of easy wins for the ascenders before iPhone really starts competing head on with Android phones for market share.

I agree with Phillip Elmer-DeWitt that the speed of Nokia’s transition to Windows Phone will be crucial for them, but since there won’t be any new handsets based on the Microsoft alliance before 2012, it seems very likely that Apple will take the leadership position later in 2011.

Samsung is doing well and it will be interesting to see how they balance their “multiple operating system strategy”, particularly in light of the Microsoft-Nokia alliance. These new numbers and the recent suit/counter-suit do reinforce that they are currently Apple’s strongest competition.

Hats off to HTC, the plucky upstart in this group. They were early to the smartphone game and it is great to see that they are holding their own now that the market is going mainstream. They have shown with HTC Sense that they can differentiate the base Android OS in some interesting ways and if they manage to find a strong brand identity and awareness, they might even find themselves in the final 5.

Evidence that this market is far from baked: “Others” is large and growing fast. I would love to see a more detailed breakdown of what’s happening down there.