Mobile phone sales explode: Five findings

Worldwide mobile phone sales increased 35 per cent in Q3 2010, with a 96 per cent increase in smartphone sales.

The smartphone boom is in full swing, with twice as many sales last quarter as in the same period last year, according to new research from Gartner.

IT research firm Gartner says worldwide mobile phone sales grew by 35 per cent overall in the third quarter of 2010 (as compared to the third quarter of 2009), mainly fueled by white-box (hardware-only) phone sales in emerging markets such as India, Russia, and Africa, as well as a 96 per cent increase in smartphone sales. It's a gold rush right now, with plenty of winners and losers -- let's take a look at five of the big takeaways from Gartner's research:

It's a good time to be a Droid

Anyone who's been following the smartphone market knows Android has been growing like crazy. The rate at which Android has gobbled up market share, however, surprises even Gartner -- just a year ago, the firm predicted that Android would be the second-most popular smartphone OS in 2012, and account for 18 per cent of all global sales. Android surpassed expectations, though -- in the third quarter of 2010, 25.5 per cent of all smartphones sold were Droids.

Market share isn't everything

Larger market share generally means more brand recognition and popularity -- but it can be a misleading measure of how certain phones are doing. While Apple lost 0.4 per cent of the market over the last year, it sold twice as many phones. Research in Motion (RIM) lost 5.9 per cent of the market, but continues to gain subscribers and revenue. Symbian, on the other hand, saw the second-largest sales increase of any smartphone OS -- more than 11 million units sold -- but still lost 8 percent o the total market share.

Windows Mobile 6.5 was not terribly popular

While smartphone sales increased for Symbian, Android, Blackberry, and the iPhone, Windows phones took a dive in both unit sales and market share. That's probably because, up until this week, Microsoft was hawking Windows Mobile 6.5 -- we expect next year's number to look a little different, now that Microsoft has entered Windows Phone 7 into the competition.

What happened to WebOS?

You know the outlook is bleak for HP and Palm's WebOS when it doesn't even have its own category in Gartner's press release. This means it's either part of the "Linux" category (with 2.1 percent market share), or the "Other" category (with 1.5 percent of the market share). HP had better have more ambitious plans than the Palm Pre 2 if it hopes to resurrect WebOS as a viable smartphone OS competitor.

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Jared Newman

PC World (US online)
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