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Bad News for the Mobile-Phone Market

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It's that time.

No, I'm not talking about Facebook's monumental IPO, my Foolish reader. I'm talking about the quarterly update from market researcher Gartner on how the mobile-phone market shook out in the first quarter. Fellow researcher IDC released its own figures earlier this month, showing Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) and Samsung leading the smartphone pack by a wide margin.

For the most part, Gartner concurs. Here are some of the notable mentions.


Q1 2011 Units

Q1 2011 Market Share

Q1 2012 Units

Q1 2012 Market Share

Samsung 68.8 million 16.1% 86.6 million 20.7%
Nokia (NYSE: NOK  ) 107.6 million 25.1% 83.2 million 19.8%
Apple 16.9 million 3.9% 33.1 million 7.9%
Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM  ) 13 million 3% 9.9 million 2.4%

Source: Gartner. Worldwide mobile-device sales.

Samsung continues to pump out mobile phones like there's no tomorrow, while Nokia's global market share continues to slip. Apple now gobbles up 7.9% of the market with its iPhone, and Research In Motion keeps on flailing despite its recent unveiling of its next-generation operating system, BlackBerry 10.

Stop me if you've heard this one before, but Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) Android and iOS are leaving less and less for the other players on the operating-system front.

Operating System

Q1 2011 Market Share

Q1 2012 Market Share

Android 36.4% 56.1%
iOS 16.9% 22.9%
Symbian 27.7% 8.6%
Research In Motion 13% 6.9%
Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) 2.6% 1.9%

Source: Gartner. Worldwide smartphone sales.

Nearly four out of five smartphones sold in the world now are either Android or iOS devices. The table scraps that the rest of the market fights over are getting scarcer by the quarter. Symbian's share plummeted, and RIM's was nearly halved. Microsoft similarly continues to struggle to gain traction.

Gartner estimates that 5 million iPhones were sold in China, making it the second largest market for Cupertino after its domestic turf.

Here's the gloomy part, though. The overall mobile-phone market declined by 2% to 419.1 million units, the first time since the second quarter of 2009. This was attributed to weakening demand within the Asia-Pacific region, which was related to a lack of major new product launches during the Chinese New Year season. These buyers held off for better deals on newer phones coming later in the year.

The second half of the year should see some strength, though, once new versions of Android and Windows Phone, along with the next iPhone, are released.

Here's the good news: The smartphone portion of the market soared by 45% to 144.4 million units.

The mobile revolution is much more focused on smartphones and tablets, as they quickly replace the dumbphones of yore. That's why the mobile revolution will be The Next Trillion-Dollar Revolution, while one company is hoping to cash in on the boom from the inside. Grab a free copy of this report to read more.

Fool contributor Evan Niu owns shares of Apple, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Check out his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft, Apple, and Google. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Google, Nokia, Apple, and Microsoft, as well as creating bull call spread positions on Microsoft and Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Read/Post Comments (2) | Recommend This Article (4)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On May 19, 2012, at 8:05 PM, techy46 wrote:

    Blah, blah blah. PC's are now mobile and Steve's dead. Tell us something we don't already know.

  • Report this Comment On May 21, 2012, at 8:14 AM, infektu wrote:

    InfoThatHelp aka James is braindead. He only has one them going :-)

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