Nokia maintained its spot as the top mobile phone manufacturer worldwide in the fourth quarter of 2011, according to a report from IDC Research. Nokia captured 26.6 percent of the market, while Samsung and Apple followed in the number two and three spots, respectively.
Overall the global mobile phone market grew 6.1 percent in the fourth quarter, its lowest point in over two years.
Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC’s Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker, said in a statement that the slowdown in the mobile phone market is not immune to weaker macro-economic conditions. “The introduction of high-growth products such as the iPhone 4S, which shipped in the fourth quarter, bolstered smartphone growth,” Restivo wrote. “Yet overall market growth fell to its lowest point since 3Q09 when the global economic recession was in full bloom.”
Apple was the big mover, as it jumped into the third spot globally from the fifth spot last quarter thanks to a record-breaking quarter of shipments. This is Apple’s highest-ever ranking on IDC’s Top 5 global mobile phone leaderboard. IDC attributed Apple’s rise to the launch of the iPhone 4S, which is now available in over 90 countries (as of mid-January). Apple device sales in the U.S. and Japan were particularly strong given extra sales days in the quarter and carrier distribution.
On a full-year basis, the worldwide mobile phone market maintained its upward trajectory by growing 11.1 percent in 2011, which was down from the 18.7 percent year-over-year growth experienced in 2010. While part of the slowing growth can be attributed to softening 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.
In North America, smartphones held the spotlight with the launch of the iPhone 4S, while LTE smartphones from HTC, LG, Motorola and Samsung also made important gains.
Research In Motion (RIM) launched several new phones running on BB OS 7 during the quarter. But RIM has said it won’t launch its BlackBerry 10 smartphones until late 2012, which IDC says leaves the door open for competitors to continue grabbing market share from the Canadian OEM.