Worldwide sales of mobile devices totaled 440.5 million units in the third quarter of 2011, up 5.6 percent from the same period last year, according to Gartner.
Non-smartphone devices performed well, driven by demand in emerging markets for low-cost devices from white-box manufacturers, and for dual-subscriber identity module (SIM) devices.
Sales into the channel reached 460 million units. Gartner analysts said this increase was because of inventory build-up in the channel partly because of the shipping of new devices late in the quarter but mostly to prepare the channel for the holiday season. Gartner expects most of the build-up to be sold by the first quarter of 2012.
Smartphone sales to end users reached 115 million units in the third quarter of 2011, up 42 percent from the third quarter of 2010. Sequentially, smartphone sales slowed to 7 percent growth from the second quarter of 2011 to the third quarter of 2011. Smartphone sales accounted for 26 percent of all mobile phone sales, growing only marginally from 25 percent in the previous quarter.
Despite a drop in market share, Nokia continued to be the worldwide leader in mobile device sales as it accounted for 23.9 percent of global sales (see Table 1). The second quarter of 2011 was the low point for Nokia, and the third quarter brought signs of improvement. Dual-SIM phones in particular, and feature phones generally, maintained Nokia's momentum in emerging markets. Heavy marketing from both Nokia and Microsoft to push the new Lumia devices should bring more improvement in the fourth quarter of 2011. However, a true turnaround won't take place until the second half of 2012.
Samsung became the No. 1 smartphone manufacturer worldwide as sales to end users tripled year over year to reach 24 million; sell in was high as the channel built inventory. Samsung was the No. 1 smartphone manufacturer for the first time, ahead of Nokia in Western Europe and Asia. Gartner attributes this to the strong performance of Samsung's Galaxy smartphones, which now cover a broad range of prices, and a weaker competitive market. Analysts expect more competition in the fourth quarter of 2011, not least because sales of the iPhone 4S, 4 and 3GS will capture share from Android manufacturers.
Apple shipped 17 million iPhones, an annual increase of 21 percent, but down nearly 3 million units from the second quarter of 2011 because of Apple's new device announcement in October. Gartner believes Apple will bounce back in the fourth quarter because of its strongest ever preorders for the iPhone 4S in the first weekend after its announcement. Markets such as Brazil, Mexico, Russia and China are becoming more important to Apple, representing 16 percent of overall sales and showing that the iPhone has a place in emerging markets, especially now that the 3GS and 4 have received price cuts.
The Android OS accounted for 52.5 percent of smartphone sales to end users in the third quarter of 2011 (see Table 2), more than doubling its market share from the third quarter of 2010.
"Android benefited from more mass-market offerings, a weaker competitive environment and the lack of exciting new products on alternative operating systems such as Windows Phone 7 and RIM," Ms. Cozza said. "Apple's iOS market share suffered from delayed purchases as consumers waited for the new iPhone. Continued pressure is impacting RIM's performance, and its smartphone share reached its lowest point so far in the U.S. market, where it dropped to 10 percent."