Global Smartphone Sales Up In 2008

    March 11, 2009

In the fourth quarter of 2008, global sales of smartphones reached 38.1 million units, an increase of 3.7 percent over the fourth quarter of 2007, according to Gartner.

Worldwide sales of smartphone for 2008 reached 139.3 million, up 13.9 percent compared to 2007.

"After a strong third quarter with new product introductions, sequential growth slowed down again in the fourth quarter as fewer compelling new products and the worsened economic climate continued to make data plans associated with smartphones out of reach for most consumers," said Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner.

"In general in 2008, the focus from vendors and operators on increasing their smartphone portfolios remained very strong. Samsung, RIM, HTC and Apple saw their volumes and share increase during 2008  thanks to their ability to offer compelling device experiences and touch interfaces."

As a proportion of all mobile device sales, smartphones remained stable at 12 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008, from 11 percent in the fourth quarter of 2007. Samsung made it into the top five vendors ranking for the first time, replacing Sharp.

Nokia held on to the top position, but in the fourth quarter of 2008 its smartphone sales dropped 16.8 percent year-on-year. This also contributed to the overall weakness of the global smartphone industry in Q4, as the company captured 40.8 percent of the market.

Apple maintained its third position in the global rankings. Apple built an inventory of about two million iPhone units in the third quarter of 2008, which did not reduce significantly in the fourth quarter. With Apple’s sequential decline, volumes were driven by new product introductions such as the RIM Storm, the T-Mobile G1 (the first product based on Google’s Android platform), and strong performance from Samsung’s touchscreen devices.

Smartphone Sales to End Users by Vendor

In the smartphone operating system (OS) market, Symbian’s share of the global market decreased to 47.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008, down from its 2007 share of 62.3 percent. RIM grew its year-on-year share of the global smartphone market to 19.5 percent from 10.9 percent. Gartner estimated that Android smartphones accounted for 20 percent of total Linux sales in the fourth quarter of 2008.

Microsoft’s share of the global smartphone market improved, with unit sales up 16 percent over Q3. This was mainly due the popularity of Samsung Omnia and Touchsreen products from HTC.

"In 2009, mobile platforms will be a major battleground as the associated user experience and role of the ecosystem grow in importance."