Global Phone Market Maintains Popularity Despite Low Demand for Feature Phones
Global Phone Market Maintains Popularity Despite Low Demand for Feature Phones
  • Korea IT Times (info@koreaittimes.com)
  • 승인 2012.02.02 12:22
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FRAMINGHAM, Mass. USA – The worldwide mobile phone industry grew 6.1% during the fourth quarter of 2011 (4Q11). The feature phone market declined faster than anticipated and dragged the market growth down to its lowest point in over two years. According to the International Data Corporation (IDCWorldwide Mobile Phone Tracker, vendors shipped 427.4 million units in 4Q11, compared to 402.8 million units in the fourth quarter of 2010. The 6.1% growth rate was higher than the IDC's forecast of 4.4% for the quarter, but weaker than the 9.3% growth in 3Q11.

"The mobile phone market exhibited unusually low growth last quarter, which shows it is not immune to weaker macroeconomic conditions worldwide," said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker. "The introduction of popular new gadgets such as the iPhone 4S, which shipped in the fourth quarter, bolstered smartphone growth. Yet overall market growth fell to its lowest point since 3Q09 when the global economic recession was in full bloom."

While smartphones continue to grow in popularity, feature phones still comprise the majority of all mobile phone shipments. "Feature phones accounted for a majority of shipments from four out of market leaders during the quarter," said Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC's Mobile Phone Technology and Trends team. "Even though their proportion is eroding, feature phones maintain their appeal on the basis of simplicity and price.

"At the same time, feature phones are fighting to maintain their market share," added Llamas. "To meet the challenge, feature phones are becoming more like smartphones, incorporating mobile Internet and third-party applications. While this may not stem the smartphone tide, it should slow down the rate of popularity.

Regional Highlights

  • In Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan), the feature phone market declined in conjunction with the region's largest feature phone markets – China, India, and Indonesia. The impact on phone demand due to the holiday season was surprisingly minimal. Meanwhile, smartphones maintained their growth momentum as the introduction of the iPhone 4S was well received in Australia, Hong Kong, Korea, and Taiwan. Competition in the Android market intensified as mid-range vendors, such as Lenovo, Coolpad, and Huawei, shipped large numbers in their home market of China. Elsewhere, the rest of the Android market was dominated by Samsung, followed by HTC and LG. The Windows Phone gained momentum thanks to sales of the HTC Titan, Radar, and Nokia Lumia. Last year’s demand for mobile phones in Japan decreased following the natural disasters and weakened the economy. This year, they have experienced an unusually high growth in the country's mobile phone market. Smartphone sellers, such as Apple, fared particularly well while non-Japanese vendors continue to make incremental gains in the market.
  • The Western European mobile phone market was impacted by lower demand, a result of the worsening economic environment. The growth of the Smartphone was not enough to offset the feature phones decline, despite excellent performances from Apple and Samsung. Nokia experienced another difficult quarter as a result of its transition towards Windows Phones. Feature phone shipments were near historic lows, supported primarily by very inexpensive devices. Overall, the Central Europe, Middle East and Africa (CEMA) markets showed strong double-digit growth due in large part to Samsung's continued strength in the regions. Nokia shipments flattened out in the regions after a strong third quarter, enabling it to remain the market leader in the regions. Apple continued to make quiet progress in the regions as well.
  • In North America, smartphones held the spotlight with the launch of the Apple iPhone 4S, while LTE smartphones from HTC, LG, Motorola, and Samsung also made important strides. Research in Motion launched several new phones running on BB OS 7 during the quarter. They set a late 2012 timetable for its first BlackBerry 10 smartphones to reach the market.
  • Smartphones also took center stage in Latin America with the launch of multiple models across the region, particularly sub-$200 Android models. The low price points have enabled broader appeal, and have also found a place among popular prepaid markets. Although smartphones continued to gain attention, low-cost feature phones ruled the market, with brands including Nokia, Samsung, and multiple Chinese vendors.

Vendor Highlights

Nokia finished the year exactly where it began: as the undisputed leader of total mobile phone shipments. The company took another step in its transition, having officially launched its first Windows Phone-powered Lumia and Asha line of smartphone-like feature phones. Though both have received positive feedback from the market, Nokia has been quick to adjust its retail experience, customer engagement, and hardware repair. At the same time, the increased focus on the Lumia, combined with changing market conditions in key markets, has prompted Nokia to change its strategy on Symbian smartphones. Fewer Symbian devices will be sold in 2012. Still, Nokia's broad distribution around the world and manufacturing capabilities make it a serious contender to maintain its leadership position.

Samsung finished the quarter and the year reaching new record levels: breaking the 90 million unit mark for the first time in a single quarter and breaking the 300 million mark for the first time in a single year. Leading the charge for Samsung was its growing smartphone volumes, boosted by the release of several high-end devices (Galaxy S II, Galaxy Note, Galaxy Nexus), mass market models (Galaxy Ace, and Galaxy Y), and new Windows Phone smartphones (Focus Flash and the Focus S). These, along with its other models, pushed Samsung closer to market leader Nokia, with fewer than 20 million units in 4Q11.

Apple jumped into the third spot globally from the fifth spot last quarter thanks to a record-breaking quarter of shipments. That represents the Cupertino-based company's highest-ever ranking on IDC's Top 5 global mobile phone, leaderboard. The launch of Apple's iPhone 4S smartphone, which is now available in over 90 countrie, was the primary reason the company surpassed LG and ZTE in 4Q11. Device sales in the U.S. and Japan were particularly strong given extra sales days in the quarter and carrier distribution.

LG's total volume declined for the third consecutive quarter, sinking to levels unseen since the second quarter of 2007. Driving this result was a combination of waning interest in its aging feature phones and stalled smartphone volumes. In addition, LG posted the largest full year-over-year decline among the leading vendors. Still, the quarter did have some bright spots, including a return to a high profit for its Optimus LTE smartphones across multiple markets. 2012 will feature more smartphones from LG, especially LTE-powered models, but the competition has similar smartphone strategies.

Chinese vendor ZTE nearly tied with LG for fourth place, with fewer than a million units separating the two vendors. Well known as a purveyor of entry level devices, ZTE's smartphones are increasingly moving into the spotlight. The company's primary targets include countries throughout Asia/Pacific, but have also gained presence in EMEA and Latin America, while branching into North America. Key models for the quarter included in the mass market are Blade and mid-range Skate Android smartphones, and most recently, a Windows Phone-powered smartphone, the Tania.


Top Five Mobile Phone Vendors, Shipments, and Market Share, Q4 2011 (Units in Millions)

Vendor

4Q11 Unit Shipments

4Q11 Market Share

4Q10 Unit Shipments

4Q10 Market Share

Year-over-year Change

Nokia

113.5

26.6%

123.7

30.7%

-8.2%

Samsung

97.6

22.8%

80.7

20.0%

20.9%

Apple

37.0

8.7%

16.2

4.0%

128.4%

LG Electronics

17.7

4.1%

30.6

7.6%

-42.2%

ZTE

17.1

4.0%

15.7

3.9%

8.9%

Others

144.5

33.8%

135.9

33.7%

6.3%

Total

427.4

100.0%

402.8

100.0%

6.1%

Source: IDC Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker, February 1, 2012

Note: Vendor shipments are branded shipments and exclude OEM sales for all vendors.

On a full-year basis, the worldwide mobile phone market maintained its upward trajectory by growing 11.1% in 2011, which was down from 18.7%  in 2010. While part of the slowing growth can be attributed to a lesser demand for feature phones, IDC expects continued double-digit growth in the years ahead as smartphones continue to capture a greater share of the overall market.


Top Five Mobile Phone Vendors, Shipments, and Market Share Calendar Year 2011 (Units in Millions)

Vendor

2011 Unit Shipments

2011 Market Share

2010 Unit Shipments

2010 Market Share

Year-over-year Change

Nokia

417.1

27.0%

453.0

32.6%

-7.9%

Samsung

329.4

21.3%

280.2

20.1%

17.6%

Apple

93.2

6.0%

47.5

3.4%

96.2%

LG Electronics

88.1

5.7%

116.7

8.4%

-24.5%

ZTE

66.1

4.3%

50.5

3.6%

30.9%

Others

552.1

35.7%

443.6

31.9%

24.5%

Total

1,546.0

100.0%

1,391.5

100.0%

11.1%

Source: IDC Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker, February 1, 2012


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