Well well, these are intersting times indeed.
I remember the hype was all over the blogosphere when Nokia announced its self-reproted market share im smartphones to be down to 35%, and many pundits were all over the space predicting the end of Nokia. We here at CDB reported the numbers, and wondered, who actually had 'stolen' Nokia's strong market share, in who moved my cheese and its follow up blog, we know half of who moved the cheese.
But it was far too much of a total shift in market shares in one period, to be able to be explained just by Apple and RIM, after the full results of all makers came in like Samsung, SonyEricsson, Motorola, LG, HTC, Fujitsu etc. Now we have the 'final' numbers, the 'official' numbers for Q3, 2009. The two major analyst houses who are regularly referenced as the most credible sources, IDC and Canalys have both reported their final count of the third quarter of 2009 for Smartphones. They find a bit of a difference by one or two percentage points, as might be expected, but have no argument of the order and magnitude of the big four, but if we average the two, we get these market shares for smartphones Q3 in 2009:
All others 13%
Most of the story is more-or-less the same as in the "who moved my cheese" blog postings, plus or minus one percentage point, but the Nokia share is dramatically different today. Note this is reality, not the early reporting. The reality is that Nokia still holds 39% market share of all smartphones, is still bigger than the next 2 put together (RIM and Apple) and only lost 2% market share from Q2, and actually grew 1% market share from the same quarter the year before. Most importantly, the way I look at it, the relevant metric - Nokia is doing BETTER in smartphones than their handset market share globally, meaning 'all is well' in terms of their strategy.
Yes, Apple is growing very strongly from the last quarter (although, according to Canalys measurements, this quarter in 2008 vs this quarter in 2009, Apple actually lost market share compared to this time a year ago) and RIM is either holding steady or growing (IDC has them holding, Canalys growing). RIM is always a difficult smartphone brand to factor in, because they report one month later in their quarter, so their 3rd quarter is not like the others from July to September, the RIM quarter runs from August to October, and we get RIM numbers always a month later than the others. So the analysts have to make a guess about RIM.,,.
But yes, we heard a lot of hype about Nokia doing a death-dance in smartphones, like Motorola doing its death dance in mobile phones. Rubbish, Nokia is doing just fine. It did lose 2% of market share, yes, and Apple actually gained more than 2%, so Apple is winning currently and Nokia has lost some market share, but no time to panic. Nokia is still the giant, and most importantly, their smartphone market share is better than their global handset market share, so here is a global handset giant, clearly set on building its future as well in the smartphone space. None of the other big 5 handset makers, Samsung, LG, SonyEricsson or Motorola, have smartphone market shares anywhere near their global handset market shares. If you think smartphones are the future of handsets, then Nokia is executing 'perfectly' in that space. But who of the tech journalists is now going to write this story? The more 'fun' sexy and glamorous story is to write about Android or Apple being the hot smartphone. Incidentially, Android has about 3.5% of all smartphones, split across dozens of models and many makers, so in size, they are about as relevant to smartphones as Fujitsu or Samsung, far smaller than HTC. How often did you think HTC, Fujitsu or Samsung are the leaders in smartphones?
And one comment on RIM. I may still have to come back to this statistic and correct it one more time. RIM hgas said recently in October that they expect their total shipments at 9.9 million smartphones for this quarter. If that is true, and the Canalys and IDC numbers had them in the 8 million plus range, then expect RIM market share reality to be boosted by about 2 percentage points more, so the 'real' RIM market share may be as big as 22%, would be a dramatic growth rate indeed. But we wait until RIM reports officially. Certainly both Canalys and IDC indicated in their smartphone press releases that RIM is growing strongly compared to this time a year ago. The question only remains, exactly how strong had their growth been..
Ok. to the mystery of who moved my cheese, nobody really. That 2% shift in market share from one quarter to the next for Nokia is well within their normal fluctuation. As long as their smartphones outperform the overall company, they are doing just about as well as we could expect. Why the discrepancy by the way? beacuse when Nokia reported their Q3 numbers, thay only had their internal numbers to compare to, and they had over-estimated the total market size, and thought they had lost more than they had. In reality, the global market for smartphones had grown less than Nokia thought, and thus their market share in reality was better than they thought. This can easily happen in these kinds of volatile times, when the global economy experiences big shifts.