Overall, worldwide smart phone shipments grew 83% to 101.0 million units. Though its market share shrank from 39% a year ago to 24% in Q1 2011, Nokia held onto its worldwide leadership position with 24.2 million units shipped - a 13% year-on-year rise - despite the current realignment of its platform strategy, staying ahead of RIM in EMEA and Apple in APAC. APAC became the largest region for Nokia, accounting for 53% of its overall shipments, overtaking EMEA by more than 3 million units, the research firm said.
"Nokia is under considerable strain in the smart phone market as it transitions strategy, platforms and people," said Canalys Principal Analyst Pete Cunningham. "Its worldwide reach, however, should never be underestimated. Canalys' country-level data shows that the vendor remains number one in 28 countries, including mainland China, where it grew 79% to 8.9 million units, thanks in part to Chinese New Year shipments."
At a platform level, Android?s continued dominance was boosted by good performances by a number of key vendors. "HTC, Samsung, LG, Motorola and Sony Ericsson drove Android shipments in the first quarter, with each vendor shipping well over 3 million devices," said Cunningham. "Samsung also shipped nearly 3.5 million bada operating system-based smart phones, outperforming total shipments of Windows Phone devices by more than a million units."
"Samsung?s own operating system development, combined with the branding and investment in its Wave smart phones at mid-tier prices, has led to good uptake in developed markets, such as France, the UK and Germany," continued Cunningham. "This achievement shows that there is still room for multiple operating systems, and that vendors can benefit from maintaining control of device development to hit the right markets and price points."
Nokia, Apple, RIM, Samsung and HTC were the top five global smart phone vendors, as in Q4 2010. Apple continued to make market share gains, reaching 19%. RIM?s share, however, dropped in Q1, as its portfolio awaited a refresh and the vendor focused on the PlayBook launch. Overtaking Motorola, LG moved into sixth place, with its Optimus series of Android smart phones doing well in all regions.
The US remained the largest country for smart phone shipments, with Apple substantially extending its lead, achieving a share of 31% and growth of over 150% year on year. Volumes were boosted significantly by shipments of the iPhone 4 with Verizon Wireless. Android remained the leading smart phone platform in the US for the third consecutive quarter, with a 49% share. Growing by well over 200%, HTC became the leading Android vendor in the US and the second-place smart phone vendor in the country overall.
"Shipments of its EVO series, Inspire 4G and Thunderbolt enhanced HTC's strong performance in this quarter," said Canalys Vice President and Principal Analyst Chris Jones. "The vendor has a wide and regularly refreshed portfolio, covering multiple network technologies, which puts it in a strong position both in the US and worldwide."
The popularity of 4G-branded models, such as the Samsung Galaxy S 4G, HTC EVO Shift 4G and the T-Mobile myTouch 4G, heavily influenced US market shipments this past quarter. Q1 also marked the first full quarter of LTE smart phone shipments, following Verizon?s 4G network launch in December 2010. Canalys estimates that shipments of these devices reached over 600,000 units.