Worldwide smartphone sales almost doubled to 80.5 million units in this year's third quarter, with Android coming from nowhere to take 25.5% of the market with 20.5m sales, according to Gartner. In the same quarter last year, smartphone sales were 41.1m units, and Android sold 1.4m units for a market share of 3.5%.
Android has now overtaken Apple's iPhone and looks likely to overtake the market leader, Symbian. In 21010 Q3, Gartner credits Symbian with 29.5m units and a market share of 36.6%, down 8 percentage points on last year. Apple's iOS has overtaken RIM's BlackBerry to take third place. Gartner has iOS with 13.5m sales for a market share of 16.7% -- fractionally down on last year -- ahead of BlackBerry's 11.9m units and market share of 14.8%, down almost 6 points.
Sales of Windows Mobile smartphones fell from 3.26m to 2.25m units and market share collapsed from 7.9% to 2.8% while Microsoft prepared to abandon the system for Windows Phone 7.
Android is benefiting from global adoption of different models by different carriers, and from its extending price range. Gartner says: "Manufacturers such as Samsung continued to launch high-end devices like the Galaxy S. But manufacturers also launched Android devices at lower prices to target different consumer segments. For example, ZTE launched a sub-£100 Android phone with Orange in the prepay UK market."
Roberta Cozza, principal research analyst at Gartner, says:
"Smartphone OS providers have entered a period of accelerated platform evolution, stimulated by more regular product releases, new platform entrants and new device types. Any platform that fails to innovate quickly -- either through a vibrant multi-player ecosystem or clear vision of a single controlling entity -- will lose developers, manufacturers, potential partners and ultimately users."
Meanwhile Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner, points to Apple's strength across multiple devices, where Android has yet to make an impact. She says:
"Apple's dramatic expansion of iOS with the iPad and the continuing success of the iPod Touch are important sales achievements in their own right. But more importantly they contribute to the strength of Apple's ecosystem and the iPhone in a way that smartphone-only manufacturers cannot compete with. To a developer, the iPod Touch and iPhone (and to a lesser extent the iPad) are effectively the same device and a single market opportunity. While Android is increasingly available on media tablets and media players like the Galaxy Player, it lags far behind iOS's multi-device presence. Apple claims it is activating around 275,000 iOS devices per day on average -- that's a compelling market for any developer. And developers' applications in turn attract users."
Smartphone sales still accounted for just 19.3% of overall mobile phone sales. In the larger market, sales increased by 35% to 417 million units. The top five suppliers were Nokia (117.5m units), Samsung (71.7 m units), LG (27.5 m units), Apple (13.5 m units), Research In Motion (11.9m units). The top three lost market share to smartphone sellers such as Apple, RIM and HTC.
The full report, Competitive Landscape: Mobile Devices, Worldwide, 3Q10, is available on Gartner's website.