The numbers are in for Q3 2010 smartphone sales and there's great news for Google Android, some mixed results for Apple iPhone, and a lot of red flags for BlackBerry.
If you've followed the technology industry in general and the mobile market specifically in 2010 then it's no secret that all of the momentum in the smartphone category is happening around Android and iPhone. However, all of the buzz and interest that these two platforms have generated hasn't reflected as strongly in the market share numbers -- until now.
On Monday, both Canalys and NPD released research reports on Q3 smartphone sales. While the numbers weren't exactly the same from the two research houses, the big picture conclusions were nearly identical. Here's a quick summary of the two reports.
The NPD report, which focused on US sales, found that Android was installed on 44% of the smartphones sold in Q3 (vs. 33% in Q2), iPhone's iOS was installed on 23% (vs. 22% in Q2), and BlackBerry OS was installed on 22% (vs. 28% in Q2).
As you can see in the chart below, the Q3 results were also a major shake-up of where the US smartphone market was a year ago.
In terms of consumer purchases, NPD's Mobile Phone Track had the following phones as the top sellers in Q3. (Keep in mind that this unit sales metric doesn't include enterprise sales, which benefit BlackBerry, and to a lesser extent, iPhone).
- Apple iPhone 4
- BlackBerry Curve 8500
- Motorola Droid X
- HTC EVO 4G
NPD executive director Ross Rubin said, "Much of Android's quarterly share growth came at the expense of RIM [BlackBerry], rather than Apple. The HTC EVO 4G, Motorola Droid X, and other new high-end Android devices have been gaining momentum at carriers that traditionally have been strong RIM distributors, and the recent introduction of the BlackBerry Torch has done little to stem the tide."
On the issue of Android taking share from iPhone, Rubin said, "The iPhone has held its own at AT&T, but Apple faces challenges in further expanding its domestic market share, while still retaining exclusivity." In other words, the iPhone is begin to saturate the market of current and potential AT&T customers in the US. Thus, the iPhone's greatest US growth opportunity will come from expanding to additional carriers, and the biggest of those opportunities will come from the long-rumored Verizon iPhone, which is reported to arrive in early 2011.
According to Canalys, the global smartphone market grew by 95% year-over-over with over 80 million units shipped in Q3 2010. In terms of the top phone makers worldwide, Nokia remained in the lead with 33% market, while Apple (17%) passed RIM (15%) for second place. When you take all of the Open Handset Alliance (OHA) devices (running Android) together, they represent 25% of the global market and its fastest-growing segment.
In the US market, Canalys found that Apple is now the single largest phone marker with 26.2% of the market, passing RIM at 24.2%. However, if you take all of the OHA devices running Android from the various vendors and combine them together then they represent 43.6% of the US smartphone market.
Canalys Senior Analyst Pete Cunningham said,
"With Samsung, HTC, Motorola and Sony Ericsson all delivering large numbers of Android devices, and with focused efforts from many other vendors, such as LG, Huawei and Acer, yielding promising volumes, the platform continues to gather momentum in markets around the world. Android has been well received by the market and in some geographies it is becoming a sought-after consumer brand. It has rapidly become the platform to watch, and its growing volumes will help to entice developers, ensuring consumers have access to an increasingly rich and vibrant mobile content and application ecosystem. Vendors are now delivering Android devices across a broad range of price points, from high-end products such as the Samsung Galaxy S or HTC Desire, to aggressively priced devices such as the LG GT540 Optimus or the Huawei built Vodafone 845, ensuring that Android devices are available and affordable to consumers on almost any budget."
Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the book, Follow the Geeks.