updated 01:05 pm EDT, Fri April 24, 2009
iPhone at 1 5pc Share
Regardless of the economy, Apple has managed to claim 1.5 percent of the market in the early part of 2009, according to ABI Research data. The California company's 3.79 million iPhones sold in the first quarter were enough to eke out the amount, which gives Apple an extra 0.4 percent of the total market beyond the 1.1 percent it had just at the end of 2008. The expansion comes at the same time as significant shrinks by market leader Nokia, which dropped to 36.2 percent, and struggling mid-range firm Sony Ericsson's fall to just 5.6 percent.
ABI still sees Apple's growth as unusually weak, particularly in the light of increased share for some of its most important rivals. Research in Motion moved up to 3 percent of the market based on strong sales of newer BlackBerries like the Bold and Curve 8900 while Korean cellphone makers LG and Samsung continued advancing rapidly to 8.8 percent and 17.8 percent respectively. The researchers' practice director Kevin Burden argues that the App Store should have helped Apple spur more demand and that it may take a sequel iPhone or additional models to tip the balance.
"As popular as the iPhone3G has been, increased competition in the touchscreen segment and a lack of product differentiation may be dampening demand," he says.
Part of the reduced significance may come from Nokia's 5800 XpressMusic, which has been one of the Finnish phone producer's few standout phones amidst a 19 percent drop in phone shipments this past quarter. Although most of Nokia's business was down significantly, the 5800 alone accounted for 2.6 million of those shipments. LG has also been a long-term competitor with phones like the Cookie and Viewty, and just recently sold 2 million Arena phones in 1 month, though these figures will only partly impact LG's share as it shipped in March.
Nokia and Sony Ericsson were hurt precisely as they had a relative dearth of touchscreen phones: the former is still waiting on its N97 flagship for the summer, while Sony Ericsson only has the XPERIA X1 and is waiting on the Idou in the second half of the year.
The increases for most of the top phone makers contribute to a better-than-expected world tally of 258 million phones shipped worldwide during the quarter, as well as a more optimistic view from ABI for the rest of the year. Though it sees year-to-year numbers dropping in the spring due to very strong shipments a year ago, it expects the spring to show stronger sales than in the winter and for a recovery to become more obvious in the summer. Total phone units are still thought likely to drop, but by a gentler 8 percent instead of 8.4 percent.