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Electronics Production | November 02, 2010

Apple now in Top5 for mobile phone vendors

The worldwide mobile phone market grew 14.6% in the 3Q/2010, the fourth consecutive quarter of double-digit growth. Vendors shipped 340.5 million units in 3Q/2010 compared to 297.1 million units in the 3Q/2009, reports the IDC.
The growing popularity of converged mobile devices, or smartphones, with consumers and businesspersons is evidenced by the appearance of a second smartphone-only vendor in the top 5 ranking. Apple moved into the number 4 position worldwide in 3Q/2010, joining Research In Motion (RIM) as one of the world's largest mobile phone suppliers. RIM has spent three quarters on IDC's leaderboard. Apple and RIM also posted the highest-growth rates among the top 5 vendors last quarter.

"The entrance of Apple to the top 5 vendor ranking underscores the increased importance of smartphones to the overall market. Moreover, the mobile phone makers that are delivering popular smartphone models are among the fastest growing firms," said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker. "Vendors that aren't developing a strong portfolio of smartphones will be challenged to maintain and grow market share in the future."

Apple, RIM, and the vendors producing Android-based smartphones have put noticeable pressure on Nokia, the overall market leader. "Nokia still leads all vendors by a significant margin for converged mobile devices and mobile phones as a whole," said Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC's Mobile Devices Technology and Trends team. "However, Nokia's grip on the traditional mobile phone market has been somewhat loosened, as multiple Chinese vendors have gained ground, especially within emerging markets. To bolster its overall competitiveness, Nokia has been focused on improving its smartphone offerings."

Top Five Mobile Phone Vendors

Nokia maintained the top spot in the overall mobile phone market despite year-over-year unit shipment growth of less than 2% in new chief executive Steven Elop's first quarter at the helm. The company grew converged mobile device shipments 61% in 3Q10, but average selling prices for the device type dropped to €136, compared to €190 in the same quarter last year. Nokia attributed the plunge to price pressure from competitors and its stated desire to reach more customers. Nokia hopes the C8 and C7 devices will boost ASPs in future.

Samsung marked a new milestone during the third quarter, pushing through the 70 million unit mark for the first time in the company's history. In addition, the company more than doubled the number of converged mobile device shipments from the previous quarter. Driving this was the worldwide release of its Galaxy S i9000 converged mobile device, as well as its bada-based Wave model. Looking ahead to the fourth quarter, Samsung appears poised to bring more smartphones to market, with a new Wave 2 awaiting launch and more mass-market devices for emerging markets.

LG Electronics missed its 3Q10 total mobile phone and smartphone shipment growth targets, resulting in an overall double-digit shipment decrease when compared to the same quarter one year ago. LG has yet to make a significant impact in the smartphone category unlike its competitors. Although operating margin returned to the same levels as a year ago, sales and profitability both fell significantly. By the end of the quarter, LG replaced its CEO Nam Yong with Koo Bon-Joon, head of LG's trading firm, LG International.

Apple leapt ahead of several vendors in 3Q10 including RIM, which it surpassed by 1.7-million units, and Sony Ericsson by 3.7-million units. The company's record shipment performance can be attributed to the introduction of the iPhone 4 in 17 new countries last quarter. The record performance came despite "Antennagate," the name used to describe the controversy around alleged iPhone reception problems, in July.

Research In Motion posted a record number of unit shipments in 3Q10. The BlackBerry maker continues to grow in Latin America, for example, due to the success of the Curve 8520 entry-level model, which has helped drive growth in most emerging markets. The vendor's results were also boosted by the introduction of the higher-cost Torch in the United States, a key market due to the size and intensity of competition.

SonyEricsson, which shipped 10.4 million units in 3Q10, fell off the Top 5 list for the first time since the Tracker was conceived in 2004.

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