The smartphone market grew in the September quarter, despite the world-wide recession, with global unit shipments up 4.2% year-over-year to 43.3 million, according to research firm IDC. The company said that Apple saw its highest iPhone unit sales yet, though Research In Motion's BlackBerry also gained share in the global market. The research firm also said that Google's Android platform was reaching "critical mass" with the release of several new Android models and the release of Android OS 2.0.
"Apple reached its highest volume yet in a single quarter," the firm said in a statement. "The nearly global availability of the iPhone 3GS sparked another round of annual replacements for Apple loyalists, while the lower price on the iPhone 3G put the device well within reach of customers wary of the price. Although the iPhone has struggled within emerging markets, its arrival at China Unicom this year could foreshadow greater shipment volumes."
The iPhone is off to a slow start in China, however, with China Unicom announcing only 5,000 activations in the smartphone's opening weekend of sales. That was lower than pundits and analysts had expected.
Also, while BlackBerry may have picked up share during the September quarter, RIM announced disappointing results for its fiscal third quarter, which ended in August, along with warnings of pricing pressure on the company's products during the current quarter. That has resulted in a share selloff of about one third of the company's market value, and RIM announced Thursday a share repurchase program.
In the meanwhile, there has been much attention centered on Android, especially with the recent release of Motorola's Droid product.
Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC's Mobile Devices Technology and Trends team, said "The release of new Android devices has picked up dramatically over the past several months and the release of version 2.0 demonstrates that Android is rapidly evolving and responsive to suggestions from OEMs and developers. With an expanding portfolio of handsets and a just released update of the code, Android is poised to mount a serious challenge to the incumbent smartphone OEMs for the first time in its brief history."
Top Five Converged Mobile Device Vendors, Shipments, and Market Share, Q3 2009 (Units in Millions)
3Q09 Shipment Volume
3Q09 Market Share
3Q08 Shipment Volume
3Q08 Market Share
Research In Motion
Table courtesy of IDC