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Mobile Management Featured Article

September 09, 2008

Gartner Smartphone Market Report Illustrates Need for Mobile Management

By Anshu Shrivastava, TMCnet Contributor

Mobile management  — keeping track of wireless devices and services in an enterprise environment — is becoming a big problem for businesses, and many are turning to professional firms to handle this increasingly complex task.
The necessity of a professional mobile management solution is borne out by looking at recent growth in the worldwide smartphone market. According to a new report from Gartner (News - Alert), smartphone sales totaled 32.2 million units during the second quarter of 2008, a 15.7 percent increase from the second quarter of 2007.
The report, “Market Share: Smartphones, Worldwide, 2Q08,” indicates that North America remained among the fastest-growing markets for smartphone sales in the second quarter of 2008 with an increase of 78.7 percent year-over-year.
Also, Europe, the Middle East and Africa exhibited 21 per cent growth year over year. In Europe, the Western region drove much of the growth with a 29.3 percent increase. In comparison, the markets of Asia/Pacific and Japan showed a downward trend, the growth rate declined 4.8 per cent and 24 per cent, respectively, according to the report.
To be sure, recent economic difficulties have slowed the market somewhat. For example, although global smartphone sales to end users during the first half of 2008 reached 64 million units (up 22 percent compared with the first half of 2007), Roberta Cozza, principal analyst at Gartner, said that “sales increased at a lower rate than in 2007.”
Cozza said in a press statement that the current economic environment continues to negatively impact the market, limiting consumer spending and replacement purchases in general.
Also, she said, smartphone sales slowed down as a result of new compelling touch technology mainly available on enhanced phones — based on proprietary operating systems — rather than traditional “smartphones.”
However, Cozza believes the wider availability of new touch smartphone models, together with the global introduction of the iPhone (News - Alert) 3G, will help sales of smartphones return to stronger growth during the third quarter of 2008.
Vendor-wise, the report found that Nokia held onto its leading position with a 47.5 percent market share during the second quarter of 2008. But, its year-over-year growth was about half of the market average. Gartner chalked this up to the fact that the Norwegian company is facing increased competition in the consumer smartphone market, which had an impact on its year-on-year performance.
“To stay competitive, Nokia will need to introduce more design variations amongst its Nseries models and keep innovating,” Cozza said. “The expected introduction of a touch-screen smartphone in the second half of 2008 will test the company's capability to show differentiation and innovation.”
Apple’s share of global smartphone sales to end-users decreased to 2.8 percent from 5.3 percent during the first quarter of 2008. This drop in sales, according to the report, is mainly due to the company having to clean the channel of first-generation iPhone units before the arrival of the iPhone 3G in June.
Gartner analysts expect iPhone sales to grow in the second half of 2008, enabling the company to regain a top position in the global smartphone vendor rankings.
The company that gained the most in this quarter is the BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM). That company’s smartphone sales were up 126 percent year-over-year, and its market share almost doubled compared with the second quarter of 2007.
For the smartphone operating system market, Symbian saw a nine percent drop in global sales in the second quarter of 2008. The report noted that the company’s performance was affected by a 26 percent drop in unit sales in Japan and Symbian’s licensee Mitsubishi (News - Alert) exiting the market.
The sales of Microsoft Windows Mobile devices increased 20.6 per cent year over year, with Microsoft's (News - Alert) share remaining flat at 12 per cent in the second quarter of 2008.

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Anshu Shrivastava is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Anshu's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Mae Kowalke

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