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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.”