Mobile sales up 16.5 percent, Android surges ahead

Worldwide mobile device shipment clocks 428.7 million in second quarter 2011, led by Nokia, Samsung and LG. Android market share expands to 43.4 percent, bypassing Symbian which drops to 22.1 percent, reveal new figures from Gartner.

Worldwide sales of mobile devices have surged to 428.7 million units in the second quarter of this year, registering a 16.5 percent year-on-year growth from the same quarter last year, according to new stats from Gartner. Nokia, Samsung and LG take top spots, as do Android, Symbian and iOS.

Published Thursday, the report revealed that channel partners or resellers built up stock at the end of the first quarter this year in preparation of component shortages following the Japanese earthquake.This led to a sell-in demand of 421.1 million units in the second quarter, some 4.4 percent less than the previous quarter.

Sales of smartphones were up 74 percent year-on-year and accounted for 25 percent of overall sales in the second quarter of 2011, an increase from 17 percent in the same quarter last year, Gartner noted.

"Smartphone sales continued to rise at the expense of feature phones," Roberta Cozza, the research firm's principal research analyst said in the report, adding that consumers in mature markets were also turning to entry-level and midrange Android smartphones partly due to sales promotions offered by carriers and manufacturers.

"We expect manufacturers and distributors to remain cautious about raising their stock levels in the second half of 2011, following the recent uncertainty on the world financial markets," said Annette Zimmermann, Gartner's principle research analyst.

The firm expects sales of mobile devices to grow around 12 percent in total this year.

Nokia retains pole position, but not for long
Nokia, Samsung and LG were the top three mobile vendors in the second quarter 2011 with a market share of 22.8 percent, 16.3 percent and 5.7 percent, respectively.

While Nokia took the pole position in the overall sales pie in the second quarter, Cozza said the phonemaker would not see a "repeat performance" in the following quarter because its channel remains "pretty lean".

The Gartner analyst explained that Nokia's sales into the channel were low in the quarter due to a competitive market which deflated demand for its Symbian devices.

The Finnish phonemaker also had inventory management issues in Europe and China, she noted. Its market share had dipped from 30.3 percent in the second quarter 2010. Cozza added that resellers for Nokia devices bought less and worked to reduce stock levels, partly by slashing prices on older products.

This, alongside Nokia's greater focus on retail and distributor sales, helped the manufacturer clear over 9 million units including 5 million smartphones and retain its pole position.

Samsung's figures were boosted by its newly-launched Galaxy S II which chalked up 5 million units worldwide by end-July, pushing it to become the world's third-largest smartphone vendor. However, the Korean manufacturer's overall share dropped year-on-year and grew marginally quarter-on-quarter, due mainly to weaker presence in more price-sensitive market segments, Gartner said.

Apple sold 19.6 million units of its iPhone in the second quarter to clock a 4.6 percent year-on-year growth, where sales of the device were pushed by 42 new carriers across 15 new countries that entered the market in the quarter. The iPhone is now sold in 100 countries, according to Gartner.

Research In Motion (RIM) saw its sales decline 11.7 percent in the same period, down from 18.7 percent a year ago. Gartner attributed the dip in demand to "an ageing portfolio and delays in shipping products". The BlackBerry maker also lost its previous fifth position in the global ranking of mobile device vendors to ZTE.

Android, iOS clear favorites
Gartner also shared that Apple's iOS and Google's Android platforms were clear winners in the smartphone ecosystem. Their combined share in the smartphone OS market doubled to nearly 62 percent in the second quarter, up from 31 percent in the same period last year, the research firm noted.

The research firm said the two operating systems offered the usability that consumers enjoyed, apps that people needed as well as an increasing portfolio of services.

Android, Symbian and iOS were the top three smartphone platforms in the second quarter with a market share of 43.4 percent, 22.1 percent and 18.2 percent, respectively.

The quarter saw the shipment of 46.7 million Android, 23.8 million Symbian and 19.6 million iOS devices. Notably, Android clocked a 26.2 percent growth from just 17.2 percent market share in the same quarter last year. In comparison, Symbian's share dipped from 40.9 percent in the second quarter of 2010.