IDC today released worldwide mobile phone market numbers for the quarter. The worldwide mobile phone market grew 12.8-percent year over year in the third quarter of 2011 (3Q11), as smartphone growth declined in key mature markets. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker, vendors shipped 393.7 million units in 3Q11 compared to 348.9 million units in the third quarter of 2010. However, the 12.8-percent growth was higher than IDC's forecast of 9.3-percent for the quarter and stronger than the 9.8-percent growth in 2Q11. Here is more:
It was also the second-lowest growth rate for the overall mobile phone market over the past two years; a reflection of delayed smartphone purchases and conservative consumer spending last quarter. Economically mature regions, such as the United States and Western Europe, were hardest hit as shipment volume to both regions declined on a year-over-year basis.
Top Five Mobile Phone Vendors
Nokia reversed a global market share on a sequential basis last quarter thanks to stronger feature phone sales in key regions as well as the clearing of inventory backlogs in traditional strongholds, namely China and Europe, which led to a sharp year-over-year shipment and share decline last quarter. Nokia's smartphone fortunes could improve in quarters to come now that it has introduced the Nokia Lumia devices, powered by Windows Phone 7, to markets where its brand is still relatively strong and in areas where the company has lost share over the past two years.
Samsung registered double-digit growth compared to the third quarter a year ago and also outpaced the market. The company's growth was again driven by smartphone sales, such as the Galaxy S2. Smartphone sales were notably higher in emerging markets including China. Samsung outpaced the feature phone market as well in terms of growth. The vendor didn't close the market share gap on Nokia for the top mobile phone position, but it remains within striking distance.
LG Electronics maintained its position as the number three mobile vendor worldwide for the twelfth quarter in a row, but continued soft demand for both its feature phones and smartphones led to volume levels not seen since 2Q 2007. With only a few new devices launched and an aging feature phone portfolio, LG's warnings of lower year-over-year shipment volume appears to have come to fruition. By the end of the year, LG's grasp on the number three position may be loosened as Apple's aggressive smartphone campaign takes hold in 4Q 2011.
ZTE jumped into the fourth spot thanks to momentum carried into 3Q 2011 with key devices shipping into strategic regions. In China, ZTE has nearly doubled its smartphone volumes from the previous quarter, while within North America, ZTE's entry-level voice-centric phones at AT&T have gained greater depth. At the same time, ZTE's target of 12 million smartphone shipments worldwide in 2011 became more of a reality with the introduction of two new Android-powered smartphones for the North American market.
Apple gained share and posted the third-highest growth rate of any Top 5 vendor but dropped to the fifth spot globally. Global iPhone shipments declined sequentially during the same quarter that company founder Steve Jobs handed the CEO reins to Tim Cook. The decline, not coincidentally, happened as Apple readied itself for the 4S launch, which many waited for. Apple's ability to upgrade 3GS users to the 4S, for example, and make continued inroads into developing economies, where it has been less successful, will help dictate the company's smartphone fortunes in the future.