Smartphone sales data charts Nokia's decline

Nokia: still the largest handset provider despite slump in its smartphone sales
Nokia: still the largest handset provider despite slump in its smartphone sales

Nokia's share of the smartphone market slumped from 39% to 24% in the first quarter of 2011, compared to the same period last year, with Android phones now extending the lead as the biggest platform, with a 35% share.

Total worldwide smartphone sales continue to soar, up 83% to 101 million handsets sold in the first quarter of 2011, according to research by Canalys.

Nokia remains the largest handset manufacturer, selling 24.2 million handsets, but its Symbian platform, which is to be replaced by Microsoft's Windows Phone system, is rapidly losing ground to Android.

Sales of Nokia handsets actually grew by 13%, but Android's growth eclipsed this, with the number of handsets featuring Android rising 580% to 35.7 million. Phones using the Android operating system are sold by several manufacturers, including Sony Ericsson, Motorola, HTC, and LG.

Microsoft's operating system featured on 2.27 million devices sold – around a 2.2% share – on the back of inconsistent user experience and problems with updates.

By geography, Asia Pacific became the largest single market, doubling to 37.3 million handsets sold, overtaking the Europe, Middle East and Africa region.

China, South Korea and India all showed triple-digit growth.

Pete Cunningham, Canalys principal analyst, said: "Nokia is under considerable strain in the smartphone market as it transitions strategy, platforms and people. Its worldwide reach, however, should never be underestimated.

"Canalys’ country-level data shows that the vendor remains number one in 28 countries, including mainland China, where it grew 79% to 8.9 million units, thanks in part to Chinese New Year shipments."

Samsung has developed its own operating system, Bada, which is outperforming Microsoft's offering.

Cunningham said: "Samsung's own operating system development, combined with the branding and investment in its Wave smartphones at mid-tier prices, has led to good uptake in developed markets, such as France, the UK and Germany.

"This achievement shows that there is still room for multiple operating systems, and that vendors can benefit from maintaining control of device development to hit the right markets and price points."

If this analysis is correct, then the strategic alliance between Nokia and Microsoft could be highly successful if implemented well, and Nokia and Microsoft have appealed for developers to come forward and work on the new phones, the first of which could be ready by the end of the year.

Apple increased its market share to 19% on the back of fresh US customers as the iPhone became available on the Verizon network there, to achieve a 31% US share.

Android remains the leading smartphone platform in the US, with a 49% share.

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