Apple, Samsung, HTC Lead Smartphone Sales Growth: Report

By Nathan Eddy  |  Print this article Print

Handsets from Apple, HTC and Samsung helped fuel smartphone market growth, though market leader Nokia is losing steam.

Worldwide mobile communication device sales to users totaled 427.8 million units in the first quarter of 2011, an increase of 19 percent from the first quarter of 2010, according to IT research firm Gartner. The company estimates that manufacturers' sales into the channel will drop in the second quarter of 2011, while sales through to consumers will be flat.

Market leader Nokia sold 107.6 million mobile devices in the first quarter of 2011, and its market share declined 5.5 percentage points year-on-year. The company noted Nokia would face challenges from Android competitors and from some Japan-induced supply constraints due to the earthquake and tsunami.

Samsung experienced its strongest first quarter ever, and the shift to higher end smartphones, such as the Galaxy line, led to an increase in average selling prices (ASPs). Samsung made numerous product announcements during the first quarter of 2011, including numerous Galaxy smartphone announcements (such as the Galaxy S II), a bada device (Wave 578), and new models of the Galaxy Tab tablets (10.1 and 8.9). These new devices, along with the effects of seasonality and expansion into emerging markets with touch and dual-SIM devices, should help improve Samsung's performance in the second quarter of 2011, the company’s report noted.

Apple sold 16.9 million units to users worldwide, more than doubling its sales of iPhones year-on-year. This market-beating growth came from all regions: the iPhone is now available in 90 countries from 186 communications service providers (CSPs). "This strong performance helped Apple consolidate its position as the fourth largest brand in the mobile communication market overall," said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner. "Considering the higher than average price of the iPhone this is a remarkable result and highlights the impact that a strong aspirational brand can have on a product."

HTC recorded a "very strong" first quarter with 9.3 million mobile communication devices sold and moved to the number seven position. Strong high-end products helped HTC perform well with all major US CSPs, and in the first quarter of 2011 it became the No. 2 smartphone manufacturer in the region, overtaking Research In Motion. Several manufacturers, including HTC, Sony Ericsson, Alcatel and ZTE, announced a broader portfolio of mid-tier devices, mainly based on Android, which will reach the market in the second quarter of 2011.

"Smartphones accounted for 23.6 percent of overall sales in the first quarter of 2011, an increase of 85 percent year-on-year," said Roberta Cozza, principal research analyst at Gartner. "This share could have been even higher, but manufacturers announced a number of high-profile devices during the first quarter of 2011 that would not ship until the second quarter of 2011. We believe some consumers delayed their purchases to wait for these models."