428m mobile communications devices sold in Q1 2011
Nokia leads sales figures with 107.6m devices sold in the first quarter
The total sales of mobile communication devices to end-users worldwide came to 427.8 million units in the first quarter of 2011, according to Gartner. This showed an increase of 19% from the first quarter of 2010.
Smartphones continue to be the fastest selling mobile devices and Gartner expects this trend to increase as the newly competitive mid-tier market hits its stride and drives smartphones into mass adoption.
"Smartphones accounted for 23.6% of overall sales in the first quarter of 2011, an increase of 85% 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."
According to Gartner, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan have had a smaller effect on the mobile communications market than was initially anticipated, although it predicts that manufacturers' sales into the channel will drop in the second quarter of 2011.
There is currently six to seven weeks of inventory of finished products in the channel and four weeks inventory for components.
Nokia lead the sales figures for Q1 2011 with 107.6 million mobile devices sold, however, the company's market share declined 5.5 percentage points year-on-year, and its share is its lowest since 1997.
Nokia plans to aggressively lower average selling prices in countries where communications service providers control sales channels to keep up the sales of Symbian devices while it waits for the Windows 7 phones to hit the market.
Samsung was second on the leaderboard with its strongest quarter ever, selling 68.7m devices in Q1 2011. Samsung's shift to selling higher end smartphones, such as the Galaxy, lead to higher average selling prices which helped to offset material costs.
Samsung also announced a range of new devices which will hit in Q2 2011, such as several Galaxy smartphones, a bada device (Wave 578), and new models of the Galaxy Tab tablets (10.1 and 8.9). These new models should help Samsung improve even further in the second quarter.
In third place with 16.9 million units sold was Apple, which more than doubled its sales of iPhones year-on-year.
The iPhone is now available in 90 countries from 186 communication service providers. "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."
Apple's inventory levels at the end of Q1 2011 were higher than usual as the company expands into new markets and extends its reach with new communications service providers.
HTC also recorded a strong quarter, selling 9.3m mobile communications devices and moving up into 7th position in the top mobile device 10 manufacturers.
In the first quarter of 2011 HTC became the No. 2 smartphone manufacturer in the US, overtaking Research In Motion.
Smartphones moved down-market in Q1 2011 despite the market shifting from feature phones to smartphones.
Several manufacturers, including HTC, Sony Ericsson, Alcatel and ZTE, have announced that they will be releasing a broader portfolio of mid-tier devices, mainly based on Android, which will reach the market in the second quarter of 2011.
Both Android and Apple iOS continue to dominate the operating system market but the announcement of the Microsoft and Nokia alliance and the end of Symbian may change the OS landscape.
"This will precipitate a competitors' rush to capture Symbian's market share in the mid-tier," said Cozza.
RIMs announcement that it will migrate its BlackBerry portfolio to the QNX platform in 2012 means that its smartphones should become more in graphics, performance and touch, and unify RIM's tablet and smartphone user experience.
Windows Phone sales remained low at 1.6m units in Q1 2011, but Gartner says this may grow with Nokia's support.