Nokia remains No. 1 in device sales, Symbian in OS

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Nokia Corp. remained the wireless industry’s No. 1 handset vendor worldwide in 2009, but its lead over rivals continued to shrink, while LG Electronics Co. Ltd. overtook Motorola Inc. as the third largest handset vendor.
According to a report from Gartner Inc., Nokia sold nearly 441 million devices in 2009, which was down from the 472.3 million the company sold in 2008. Overall, Nokia’s share of the handset market, which was down nearly 1% year-over-year, sunk from 38.6% in 2008 to 36.4% in 2009.
Much of that share loss appeared to go to Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. which saw its device sales jump from 199.3 million in 2008, or 16.3% market share, to 235.8 million in 2009, or 19.5% market share.
“Samsung was the clear winner among the top five with market share growing by 3.2 percentage points from 2008,” Gartner noted in its report. “This achievement came as a result of improved channel relationships with distributors to extend its reach and better address the needs of individual markets as well as a rich mid-tier portfolio.”
LG, Motorola and Sony Ericsson rounded out the top five handset vendors for the year. LG was the only one to post a year-over-year increase with total sales surging from 102.8 million in 2008, 8.4% of the market, to 122.1 million last year, or 10.1% of the market. The increase pushed LG past Motorola, which saw its handset sales drop by nearly 50% from 106.5 million in 2008 to 58.5 million last year. Sony Ericsson maintained its No. 5 position despite a sharp drop in sales from 93.1 million in 2008 to 54.9 million in 2009.
Beyond the increased sales posted by Samsung and LG, Gartner’s “other” category also saw a sales increase in 2009. While not listing specific sales, Gartner noted that the other category was bolstered by increased sales from Apple Inc.
Smartphones also helped propel growth during the last half of 2009 with segment sales increasing more than 41% year-over-year to 53.8 million units during the final three months of last year. For the year smartphone sales jumped nearly 24% to 172.4 million, though that accounted for less than 15% of the total mobile device market. Gartner singled out Apple and Research In Motion Ltd. as benefiting from the increased demand for smartphones.
Nokia’s continued dominance of the handset market helped its Symbian operating system maintain worldwide leadership of the OS market, though its market share slipped below 50% for the year. According to Gartner’s data, Symbian device sales increased year-over-year from 72.9 million devices in 2008 to 80.9 million last year, though the OS’ overall market share dropped from 52.4% to 46.9%.
Eating into Symbian’s piece of the pie were RIM and Apple. RIM’s sales increased from 23.1 million devices in 2008, a 16.6% share of the market, to 34.3 million in 2009, or 19.9% of the market. Apple saw even more robust growth with sales increasing from 11.4 million units in 2008, or 8.2% of the OS market, to 24.9 million in 2009, or 14.4% of the market.
The only other OS to post a year-over-year gain was Google Inc.’s Android OS, which increased sales from just over 640,000 units in 2008, less than 1% market share, to nearly 6.8 million sales in 2009, or 3.9% market share.
“Android’s success experienced in the fourth quarter of 2009 should continue into 2010 as more manufacturers launch Android products, but some CSPs and manufacturers have expressed growing concern about Google’s intentions in the mobile market,” said Carolina Milanesi, research director at Gartner. “If such concerns cause manufacturers to change their product strategies or CSPs to change which devices they stock, this might hinder Android’s growth in 2010.”
Those OS’ hardest hit included Microsoft Corp.’s Windows Mobile, which saw its market share drop from 11.8% to 8.7%, and Linux, which saw its share dip from 7.6% in 2008 to 4.7% in 2009.

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Dan Meyer

Editor-in-Chief, Telecom Software, Policy, Wireless Carriers
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Dan Meyer started at RCR Wireless News in 1999 covering wireless carriers and wireless technologies. As editor-in-chief, Dan oversees editorial direction, reports on news from the wireless industry, including telecom software, policy and wireless carriers, and provides opinion stories on topics of concern to the market such as his popular Friday column “Worst of the Week.”

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