updated 03:15 pm EDT, Thu September 8, 2011
IDC says Apple, Google help smartphones win Europe
Smartphones crossed an important threshhold Thursday after IDC data showed them outselling basic cellphones in Western Europe for the first time. Owed mostly to Apple's iPhone and multiple Android models, smartphones grew 48 percent year-to-year this past spring to hit 52 percent of European phones, or 21.8 million devices. Simple phones dropped 29 percent over the same period to 20.4 million and now made them a minority.
Overall shipments in the area were down three percent, although this might have been attributed to deliberate choices on the part of carriers. As much as economic troubles in the European Union might have played a factor, carriers are believed to have stopped giving discounts on basic phones to steer users towards smartphones, where data plans raise the price of service. Contracts and higher prices are also more common and tend to slow down the pace of upgrades.
Phone builders might also be lowering their shipments to clear out stock of old models as they get ready for fresh updates.
Among individual results, Samsung's deeper footprint in the European market gave it an edge. Flagships such as the Galaxy S II, which shipped to Europe just after Korea, helped bring it from a quarter of the market a year ago to a third with 13.9 million smartphones. Most of this came at Nokia's loss, with its Symbian phones dropping from 37 percent to 21 percent, and nine million phones. Apple was still proof that Android's gains weren't coming at the iPhone's expense, as its shipments more than doubled from six percent to 11 percent and 4.6 million.
RIM was still adding share in Europe, unlike in the BlackBerry-resistant US, but was virtually tied with the much faster growing HTC for seven percent of the market; the creator of the Incredible S and Sensation more than doubled its volume in a year's time to hit 3.1 million.