Samsung became the No. 1 smartphone manufacturer worldwide, according to a third-quarter smartphone report from Gartner. The report confirms previously released third-quarter numbers from IDC and Canalys.
Samsung’s sales to end users tripled year-over-year to reach 24 million. This is the first time Samsung has beat Nokia in Western Europe and Asia. Gartner attributes this to the strong performance of Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones, which now cover a broad range of prices, and a weaker competitive market.
Gartner analysts said they expect more competition in the fourth quarter of 2011, partly due to sales of the iPhone 4S, 4 and 3GS, which the firm says will result in Apple capturing share from Android manufacturers.
Apple shipped 17 million iPhones, an annual increase of 21 percent, but down nearly 3 million units from the second quarter of 2011 because of Apple’s new device announcement in October. Apple usually announces a new device in June.
Gartner believes Apple will bounce back in the fourth quarter because of its strongest ever preorders for the iPhone 4S in the first weekend after its announcement. Markets such as Brazil, Mexico, Russia and China are becoming more important to Apple, representing 16 percent of overall sales and showing that the iPhone has a place in emerging markets, especially now that the 3GS and 4 have received price cuts.
Meanwhile, Android accounted for 52.5 percent of smartphone sales to end users in the third quarter of 2011, more than doubling its market share from the third quarter of 2010.
“Android benefited from more mass-market offerings, a weaker competitive environment and the lack of exciting new products on alternative operating systems such as Windows Phone 7 and RIM,” said Roberta Cozza, principal research analyst at Gartner, in a statement. “Apple’s iOS market share suffered from delayed purchases as consumers waited for the new iPhone. Continued pressure is impacting RIM’s performance, and its smartphone share reached its lowest point so far in the U.S. market, where it dropped to 10 percent.”
Worldwide sales of mobile devices totaled 440.5 million units in the third quarter of 2011, up 5.6 percent from the same period last year, according to Gartner. Non-smartphone devices performed well, driven by demand in emerging markets for low-cost devices from white-box manufacturers, and for dual-subscriber identity module (SIM) devices.
Sales into the channel reached 460 million units. Gartner analysts said this increase was because of inventory build-up in the channel partly because of the shipping of new devices late in the quarter but mostly to prepare the channel for the holiday season. Gartner expects most of the build-up to be sold by the first quarter of 2012.