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© Evertiq Compilation Electronics Production | February 10, 2011

Top5: Apple & RIM in; Sony Ericsson & Motorola out

Worldwide mobile device sales to end users totaled 1.6 billion units in 2010, a 31.8% increase from 2009, according to Gartner, Inc. Smartphone sales to end users were up 72.1% from 2009 and accounted for 19% of total mobile communications device sales in 2010.
"Strong smartphone sales in the fourth quarter of 2010 pushed Apple and Research In Motion (RIM) up in our 2010 worldwide ranking of mobile device manufacturers to the No. 5 and No. 4 positions, respectively, displacing Sony Ericsson and Motorola," said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner. "Nokia and LG saw their market share erode in 2010 as they came under increasing pressure to refine their smartphone strategies."

Overall, the mobile device market showed less seasonality than in previous years in mature markets such as Western Europe and North America. Worldwide mobile phone sales to end users reached 32.7% growth in the fourth quarter of 2010 as mobile phone sales to end users totaled 452 million units.

© Gartner Inc.

Shortages continued to affect popular components, such as camera modules, touchscreen controllers, and active-matrix organic light-emitting diode (AMOLED) screens, in the fourth quarter of 2010. "This situation will not ease until at least the second half of 2011. Shortages will be a long-term consideration for mobile device vendors, because other fast-growing categories of connected consumer devices, such as media tablets, are competing for the same components," said Ms. Milanesi.

White-box sales exceeded 115 million units in the fourth quarter of 2010 and 360 million units in 2010 overall. Although white box sales helped boost mobile device sales to 1.6 billion units in 2010, it would be misleading to interpret this as market "growth" in the strictest sense. "What we see is an increase in addressable market for mobile device manufacturers as consumers shift their behavior to buying new phones from legitimate channels over second-hand and black market devices," said Ms. Milanesi.

In 2010, Nokia's annual mobile phone sales to end users reached 461.3 million units, a 7.5% drop in market share from 2009. The year-on-year decline is not solely attributable to Nokia's continuing deficiency in high-end devices but is, in part, the result of the growth of legitimate white-box sales. Nokia's share of the smartphone market dropped 6.7 percentage points from 2009. Nokia's future rests on the announcements it will make on February 11 and how well the company can execute on those plans in the limited time available.

RIM's overall mobile phone sales to end users in 2010 reached a total of 47.5 million units, an increase of 38.2% year-on-year. Performance in the fourth quarter of 2010 was particularly strong in Southeast Asia (Indonesia) and Europe (the U.K. and the Netherlands). These sales rested on aggressively priced prepaid offerings, as well as steady uptake of the BlackBerry Messenger service.

Despite growing volume sales, RIM was unable to keep up with market growth and saw its market share decline from 19.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009 to 13.7% in the fourth quarter of 2010. At the end of 2010, RIM announced it will release its media tablet, the PlayBook. It remains to be seen if this move will help RIM strengthen its ecosystem.

Apple sold 46.6 million units in 2010, 87.2% growth from 2009. This growth is largely due to expansion into new countries and the ending of exclusivity deals, which has made the iPhone available through 185 communication service providers (CSPs) around the world. The end of exclusivity deals also encouraged CSP competition on tariffs and data plans, making the total cost of iPhone ownership more in line with other high-end smartphones.

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