Apple, Linux-Based Android Gaining Share in Fast-Growing Smartphone Market

Worldwide mobile phone sales grew 17 percent year-over-year in the first quarter of 2010, but smartphones greatly outpaced the overall mobile market, up 48.7 percent year-over-year, and it was Apple and Google that led the way.

The survey from Gartner states the smartphone market is rapidly accelerating to account for more and more of the total handset market. Smartphones sales in Q1 of 2010 were 54.3 million units, or 17.3 percent of the total market of 314.7 million units. In the year-prior quarter, smartphones accounted for 13.6 percent of sales.

While the brand names get all the attention, Gartner noted that a "white box" market -- generic phones with no brand name on them, something the PC industry has had for years -- has started to spring up in Asia.

"Increasing sales of white-box products in some emerging regions, in particular India, also drove sales of mobile phones upward. We expect sales of white-box products to remain very healthy for the remainder of 2010, especially outside of China," Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner, said in a statement.

The rise of these white box manufacturers in Asia has eroded the overall share held by the top names and helped inflate the "Others" category, both by about 3 percentage points.

But the market still belongs to the names you know. Nokia remained in first place, with 110.1 million units shipped during the quarter, followed by Samsung with 64.9 million units, LG Electronics with 27.2 million units, followed by Sony Ericsson, Research in Motion, Motorola and Apple.

Apple may have been seventh worldwide but it posted its best quarter yet, with sales of 8.4 million units, a 112.2 percent increase over the 3.9 million units a year ago. The company attributed this surge in sales due to strength in China, India and Japan.

Symbian lost 4.5 percentage points in mobile OS market share, but still dominates at 44.3 percent global market share. RIM dipped slightly, down 1.2 percentage points to 19.4 percent. Apple is in third with 15.4 percent and Android soared an incredible 707 percent, from 1.6 percent market share to 9.6 in the space of a year.

Android's gain is Microsoft's pain, as Windows Mobile dropped from 10.2 percent to 6.8 percent. Also taking it on the chin is the "Linux" category, down from 7 percent to 3.7 percent. Android is based on Linux, so it's a case of splitting hairs.

But generic Linux is different in that Android is seen as a full-blown ecosystem and not just an OS, and that is what is driving the most successful platforms, said Gartner. "As seen with the iPad and Web books based on Google's Android platform, mobile OS ecosystems are developing and will move beyond smartphones to continue to deliver consumer value and a rich user experience,” said Roberta Cozza, principal research analyst at Gartner in a statement.

To compete in such a crowded market, manufacturers need to tightly integrate hardware, user interface, and cloud and social networking services, Gartner notes. "Just adding a qwerty keyboard will not make a device fit the communication's habits of today's various consumer segments," said Cozza.

Andy Patrizio is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.


Linux, Android, Blackberry, iPhone, smartphone