If you're planning a technology refresh or considering new enterprise solutions for your organization, you'll do well to take note of the marked increases in worldwide mobile device sales and shipments in Q1 2010.
Sales of smartphones, mobile PCs and a new class of "media tablets" exemplified by the Apple iPad all experienced strong growth in Q1 2010, according to recent reports from research firms Gartner, IDC, Strategy Analytics and ABI Research.
We've aggregated the results of several recent reports here to give you a one-stop snapshot of the mobility landscape for 2010 and beyond. It's important to note that the reports cited here focus primarily on what can be considered consumer-grade devices and do not account for the range of "enterprise-class" devices exemplified by rugged handhelds, tablets and mobile PCs.
In addition, while the research varies in terms of methodology and geographic regions, the message is clear: mobility is the new normal.
We'll start with the latest smartphone reports, below which you'll find trends in the mobile PC marketplace.
Worldwide mobile phone sales to end users increased 17% in Q1 2010 over the same period in 2009, according to Gartner. End users snapped up 314.7 million units in the period. The increase in smartphone sales to end users in Q1 2010 was even more remarkable: 54.3 million units, a 48.7% increase over Q1 2009, according to Gartner.
Gartner says smartphones accounted for 17.3% of all mobile handsets sold in Q1 2010, up from 13.6% in the same period in 2009.
IDC reports that mobile phone vendors shipped 54.7 million units in Q1 2010, a 56.7% increase over Q1 2009. Smartphones (or "converged mobile devices" in IDC lexicon) accounted for 18.8% of these, up from 14.4% in Q1 2009.
Tom Kang, Director at Strategy Analytics, calls Q1 2010 "the strongest period of growth for almost three years" and adds that "the high-value smartphone market is leading the handset industry out of recession."
Neil Mawston, Director at Strategy Analytics, predicts that the global smartphone market will head in two broad directions this year: "Some smartphone vendors, such as Nokia, will chase growing mid-tier volumes in emerging markets such as China and India. Other brands, such as Motorola, will focus on mature markets like the US and explore a new wave of services beyond Internet browsing and email such as high-quality video and navigation."
ABI Research is forecasting worldwide mobile phone shipments to reach 3.1 billion by year's end.
WHICH OPERATING SYSTEM?
In the smartphone OS race, Gartner declares Android and Apple the winners in Q1 2010. Android moves to the No. 4 spot, displacing Microsoft Windows Mobile for the first time. Android and Apple are the only two mobile operating systems among the top five to increase market share year-on-year, according to Gartner.
Symbian remains in the No. 1 position but continues to lose as Nokia remains weak in the high-end portfolio, according to Gartner.
Carolina Milanesi, Research VP at Gartner, says: "This quarter saw RIM, a pure smartphone player, make its debut in the top five mobile devices manufacturers, and saw Apple increase its market share by 1.2 percentage points. Android's momentum continued into the first quarter of 2010, particularly in North America, where sales of Android-based phones increased 707% year-on-year."
The NPD Group puts the Android OS into the No. 2 position for U.S. smartphone market share in Q1 2010, behind Research In Motion's BlackBerry OS. NPD bases its market share report on unit sales reported via an online survey of 150,000 U.S. consumers. (The NPD Group sales figures do not include corporate and enterprise mobile phone sales.)
According to Thomson Reuters, Apple is questioning the NPD Group smartphone sales data. "This is a very limited report on 150,000 U.S. consumers responding to an online survey and does not account for the more than 85 million iPhone and iPod touch customers worldwide," Apple spokeswoman Natalie Harrison told Thomson Reuters.
In the Gartner report, Milanesi says, "The second quarter of 2010 will be a very important one for Apple. We expect that Apple will present its new iPhone in June during its Worldwide Developer Conference, which will be the first to feature the latest release of the iPhone OS that includes welcome improvements for developers and users, such as multitasking."
According to The NPD Group, the average selling price for all mobile phones in Q1 2010 reached $88, a 5% increase over Q1 2009. Smartphone prices, by comparison, averaged $151 in Q1 2010, a 3% decrease over the same period in the previous year.
WHAT ABOUT MOBILE PCs?
Mobile PC shipments of 49.4 million represent a 43.4% increase in Q1 2010 over the same period in 2009, according to Gartner. This year-over-year growth is the highest the mobile PC market has experienced in eight years, and represents about $36 billion in end-user spending, according to Gartner.
While Gartner notes that shipments to the consumer segments continue to be the main growth driver for mobile PCs, there was an uptake in the professional segment as well. Gartner expects to see higher growth in the professional market toward the end of 2010 and into 2011 as part of a larger refresh cycle.
"Mini-notebook PCs were a big part of the bump in mobile PC shipments in the first quarter of 2010, with shipments growing 71 percent over the same period last year," says Mikako Kitagawa, Principal Analyst at Gartner. "However, mini-notebooks' share slowed in some regions as consumers begin to understand the limitations of mini-notebooks, especially in the face of aggressive price cuts of regular notebooks."
Gartner estimates that there are about 500 million mobile PCs currently in use worldwide. Products from adjacent categories, such as smartphones and media tablets (Apple's iPad), offer messaging and Web access, which analysts say are challenging the key applications for PCs.
While Gartner does not see these products as a direct replacement for mobile PCs, analysts are closely monitoring how consumers and businesses are using them. The top applications that are downloaded will tell a lot about how these devices could displace some mobile PC sales in the future.
IDC is classifying products such as Apple's iPad as "media tablets," and predicts these types of devices shipments will grow from 7.6 million units in 2010 to more than 46 million units in 2014, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 57.4%.
In comparison, IDC expects 398 million portable PCs will be shipped in 2014.
IDC defines media tablets as tablet form factor devices with 7- to 12-inch color displays. They are currently based on ARM processors and run lightweight operating systems such as Apple's iPhone OS and Google's Android OS.
This distinguishes them from tablet PCs, which are based on x86 processors and run full PC operating systems.
According to IDC, media tablets do not include built-in hardware keyboards but use a stylus/pen or finger for navigation and data input.
Media tablets provide a broad range of applications and connectivity, differentiating them from primarily single-function devices such as eReaders. Although media tablets will primarily be marketed as multifunction entertainment devices, productivity applications will eventually be available to support consumer and enterprise users, according to IDC.
Dell and Research In Motion are among those hardware vendors rumored to be planning to introduce products in this class of devices.
"The average selling price (ASP) of mobile PCs was $732 in the first quarter of 2010, a 15.7 percent decline from the first quarter of 2009, when the ASP was $868," according to Gartner's Kitagawa. "The ASP for mobile PCs is expected to stabilize as sales into the professional market will grow, resulting in slightly higher ASPs compared to consumer mobile PCs."
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