Canalys today published its fourth-quarter 2010 global country-level smartphone market data. To no one's surprise, the report revealed that Google's Android has become the leading platform.
Android knocked Symbian from the top spot for the first time. Shipments of Android smartphones reached 32.9 million, while devices running Nokia's Symbian platform trailed slightly at 31.0 million worldwide. Nokia, however, managed to retain its position as the leading global smartphone vendor, with a total global market share of 28 percent.
Apple shipped 16.2 million units in the fourth quarter, finishing slightly above RIM's 14.6 million units.
The fourth quarter also saw the worldwide smartphone market continue to soar, with shipments of 101.2 million units, representing 89 percent growth over the same quarter last year. The final quarter took shipments for the year to just below 300 million units, with an annual growth rate of 80 percent over 2009, according to Canalys.
The United States continued its reign as the largest country market in terms of shipments, at more than double the size of the Chinese smartphone market. RIM recaptured first place from Apple in the United States, as the latter experienced its usual U.S. seasonal dip, and RIM benefited from the first full quarter of shipments for the BlackBerry Torch. HTC successfully maintained its third-place ranking in the U.S. for the third consecutive quarter, driven by its speed to market with the latest Android updates and new Windows Phone 7 devices.
Canalys Analyst Tim Shepherd thinks the Verizon iPhone is set to shift the U.S. smartphone landscape in a major way. "Verizon will move its focus away from the Droid range, but the overall market impact will mean less carrier-exclusive deals, while increasing the AT&T opportunity for Android vendors, such as HTC, Motorola and Samsung," Shepherd said in a statement.
Android was by far the largest smartphone platform in the U.S. market in the fourth quarter, with shipments of 12.1 million units – nearly three times those of RIM's BlackBerry devices. Windows Phone 7 devices appeared too late in the quarter to take full advantage of holiday season purchasing. As a result, Microsoft lost share in the United States.
A separate report by NPD Group also showed Android continuing to gobble up U.S. market share in the fourth quarter. According to NPD, the Android smartphone OS increased its market share lead by 9 percentage points since the prior quarter, to reach 53 percent of the U.S. consumer smartphone market. Apple iOS share declined 4 percentage points to comprise 19 percent of unit sales in the fourth quarter; RIM'S BlackBerry OS fell 2 points to tie Apple's 19 percent; Windows Mobile, Microsoft's legacy OS, fell 3 points to 4 percent, as the new Windows Phone 7 OS debuted at 2 percent; and Palm's WebOS held at 2 percent.
Ross Rubin, executive director of industry analysis for NPD Group, thinks that Microsoft is at least off to a good start with its Windows Phone 7 launch. "Microsoft has made the case for Windows Phone 7's differentiation and improved integration. Now, the company must close the feature gap, offer more exclusive capabilities, work with partners to deliver hardware with better differentiation, and leverage its extensive experience in driving developer communities to increase its app offerings," Rubin said in a statement.
Despite buy-one-get-one promotions at both AT&T and T-Mobile, the Windows Phone 7 OS claimed less market share than its predecessor, Windows Mobile, for which handsets are still available at all four major U.S. carriers. Windows Phone 7 also entered the market with lower share than either Android or webOS at their debuts, according to the NPD report.
NPD notes that this was the first quarter ever where the top five mobile devices by sales were all smartphones. The top-selling mobile phone models from highest to lowest sales were: Apple iPhone 4, Motorola Droid X, HTC EVO 4G, Apple iPhone 3GS, Motorola Droid 2.
The numbers released today from NPD Group were part of its Mobile Phone Track report, which tracks U.S. consumers, aged 18 and older, who reported purchasing a mobile phone. The report does not track corporate/enterprise mobile phone purchases.