Android, Google’s software conceived as an operating system for smartphones, tablets and other devices, was found on more than half of all global smartphone shipments in the third quarter of this year. Samsung’s Bada software was the only other growing platform, going from 1.1 percent share in Q3 2010 to 2.2 percent share in Q3 2011.

All the other guys, Apple included, surrendered market share to a wide variety of Android devices. Plus, Samsung was confirmed as the leading smartphone vendor worldwide. Delayed launch of a next-generation iPhone presented Android backers with additional three months to gain market share, which negatively affected Apple whose shares were down ten percent over the past month.

That’s the gist of today’s report from Gartner that pegged Android’s Q3 2011 share to 52.5 percent on sales of a whopping 60.49 million Android phones, a substantial increase over the 25.3 percent in the year-ago quarter on shipments of 20.54 million units. Together, iOS and Android accounted for more than two-thirds of all smartphones sold (talk about duopoly). Principal research analyst Roberta Cozza:

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

Research In Motion, which is gearing up to launch first QNX-driven BlackBerries early next year, saw its smartphone share fall to just ten percent, its lowest point so far in the U.S. market. Apple’s share of the global smartphone market was 15 percent in Q3 2011 on sales of 17.29 million units, which is a 21 percent annual increase. But the smartphone market grew at an even faster clip so Apple actually recorded a slight decline from the 16.6 percent in Q3 2010 on sales of 13.48 million units.

Source: Gartner (November 2011)

Strong iPhone 4S launch and price reductions for both the iPhone 4 and 3GS models are seen as catalyst enabling Apple to regain lost share from Android manufacturers. Apple is under pressure as quarterly iPhone sales decreased compared to the 20.34 million iPhones shipped during the June quarter. Principal research analyst Roberta Cozza said some consumers “were waiting for a rumored new iPhone and associated price cuts on older iPhone models; this affected U.S. sales particularly”.

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.

iPhone 4S launches in India, the world’s second-largest market, on November 25. Pre-orders sold out in Hong Kong in 10 minutes and the online Apple Store is now offering unlocked iPhone 4S units. The company pledged to roll out the handset to a hundred carriers in 70 countries by the year’s end, the fastest iPhone roll out yet. Supply chain sources claimed Apple cut holiday quarter iPhone 4S orders, but analysts rushed to dispute that report.

According to Gartner data tracking per-vendor shipments worldwide, including both smartphones and feature phones, Nokia remains the world’s top handset maker. The embattled phone giant, however, continues on a downward spiral as its share declined from 28.2 percent to 23.9 percent between Q3 2010 and Q3 2011. Samsung upped its share from 17.2 percent to 17.8 percent and number three LG fell from 6.6 percent to 4.8 percent. Apple is the world’s fourth-largest handset vendor with a Gartner-estimated 3.9 percent share, a slight increase over the 3.2 percent share in Q3 2010. Gartner’s estimate contradicts the five percent global handset share Apple CEO Tim Cook recently mentioned.

“Despite all this success and momentum, the iPhone has five percent share of the worldwide market of handsets”, he said at the October 4 iPhone 4S unveiling, adding:

I could have shown a much larger number if I just showed smartphones, but that’s not how we look at it.

Instead, he explained, Apple expects all phones to eventually become smartphones, presenting the company with a huge opportunity to bank on the iPhone’s popularity and iconic status.

In another report from yesterday, Gartner noted that Apple grew its PC market share in Western Europe, growing sales amid the broader market slump. As Dell, Acer Group and Hewlett-Packard all saw their PC shipments in the region drop substantially, Apple sold 1.13 million Macintoshes during the third quarter for a 7.6 percent market share in Western Europe, up over a 5.7 percent share just a year ago. In the United Kingdom, only Apple’s and Samsung’s sales grew – and by 21.8 percent and 39.0 percent, respectively.

Cross-posted on

Source: Gartner (November 2011)

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