iSuppli handset figures for the first quarter of 2010 are out and they contain yet another indication of the smart phone’s revolutionary impact on mobile, as both RIM and Apple rose to the fifth and sixth positions in the global market for all types of cell phones, while Motorola fell to eighth place.
RIM, whose cell phone line consists entirely of Blackberry smart phone devices, achieved the best results of the Top 10 cell phone brands in the first quarter, with its shipments rising by 364,000 units or 3.6 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2009. This defied the industrywide slowdown and caused the company’s rank to rise to No. 5 in the global cell phone market, up from eighth place in the fourth quarter of 2009.
Apple in the first quarter shipped 8.8 million mobile handsets, every one an iPhone, giving it a 3.04 percent share of global shipments. Company shipments rose by 0.2 percent from 8.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2009, giving it the No. 6 position in the market in the first quarter, up from ninth place in the fourth quarter of 2009. Apple achieved the second-largest sequential increase in shipments among the Top 10 brands.
RIM and Apple were the only smart phone brands among the Top 10 to achieve sequential quarterly growth.
In contrast, Motorola in the first quarter posted a 29.2 percent decline in shipments to 8.5 million units, down from 12 million in the fourth quarter of 2009. This caused the company’s rank to slide two positions to eighth place, falling behind both Apple and Chinese handset OEM ZTE.
“Smart phones represent the hottest segment of the cell phone market, with unit shipment growth of 35.5 percent expected in 2010, compared to 11.3 percent for the overall mobile handset business,” noted Tina Teng, senior analyst, wireless communications, for iSuppli. “Because of this, companies that are exclusively focused on this area, like RIM and Apple, have managed to move up to near the top-tier of the global cell phone business. This shows that the smart phone is reshaping the competitive landscape of the wireless business.”
The Top four players in the first quarter retained their rankings compared to the fourth quarter. Among the Top 4, only No. 2 Samsung was able to perform better than the industry average with only a 6.5 percent sequential decline in revenue.
The players in the top ten are becoming remarkably predictable so it will be interesting to see what happens later in the year to the market – particularly the smartphone market – as IT manufacturers like Dell, Acer and Microsoft debut new smartphones, and it will be even more interesting to see what HP will do in the wake of their planned acquisition of Palm.