updated 06:20 am EST, Wed February 15, 2012
Gartner: iPhone demand to stay strong, but taper
Research analytics firm Gartner has released its Q4 report, which shows that Apple took a 24 percent share of the global smartphone market -- the largest share of any single smartphone maker. This was aided by pent-up demand following the extended 15-month period where the iPhone 4 was on sale resulting in Apple achieving a a 121.4 percent of year-over-year increase in iPhone sales over the October to December period. While Apple reported that it shipped 37 million iPhones during the last quarter, Gartner estimates that 35.5 million of these ended up in users' hands helping to push Apple past LG as the world's third largest mobile phone maker.
While Gartner expects that Apple will continue its strong sales of the iPhone over the first quarter of this year, an equalization in supply and demand following the exhaustion of delayed purchases, will see its pace gradually taper over the period. Further, global economic conditions are predicted to bite into all smartphone sales over the period with the replacement market slowing down as growth in the segment declines to 39 percent from 58 percent.
From an OS share perspective, Gartner's research shows that Android continues to lead the way increasing its share of the smartphone market from 30.5 percent in Q4 2010 to a dominant 50.9 percent for the quarter. The one off note for Android was that it experienced a rare decline sequentially over the previous quarter, where it had captured 53 percent of the global OS share. Gartner attributed this to the surge in demand for the iPhone 4S, which was reflected in the Apple's 24 percent share of the smartphone handset market (up from 15.8 percent in Q4, 2010). However, Gartner expects Android to regain any lost ground over the January to March period.
Most of the gains made by Android and Apple over the period continued to come at the expense of Nokia's Symbian OS, which has lost two-thirds of its smartphone market share year-over-year, declining from 32.3 percent in Q4 2010 to just 11.7 percent last quarter. RIM continued to bleed market share, down from a 14.6 percent share in Q4 2010 to 8.8 percent. Gartner's figures also showed that Samsung's in-house Bada OS sold in its feature phones actually held a larger share of the smartphone market than Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 platform at a 2.1 percent share against 1.9 percent.