Apple reported its fiscal fourth quarter earnings Monday, stating it sold 7.4 million iPhones during the period, up from 6.9 million units sold in the year-ago quarter and ahead of Wall Street's expectation of around 7 million units. Market research firm iSuppli notes that the iPhone was responsible for 12.1 percent of global smartphone shipments in the second calendar quarter of 2009, up from 10.1 percent in the first quarter, and although it hasn't finalized its third-quarter market share figures, expectations are the iPhone continued its upward trend over the last three months. iSuppli adds that while worldwide smartphone unit shipments are set to grow by 11.6 percent in calendar year 2009 compared to 2008, iPhone shipments are set to increase by 37 percent this year.
But looking beyond 2009, research firm Gartner forecasts that by 2012, Android--which currently represents less than 2 percent of all smartphones sold--will grow to 18 percent of worldwide smartphone OS market share, accounting for 94.5 million of the expected 525 million smartphones sold three years from now. While the iPhone will generate sales of 71.5 million in 2012, its overall market share is only expected to grow to 13.6 percent between now and then--Symbian, with an anticipated 196.5 million units sold in 2012, will represent 37.4 percent of worldwide OS market share, while BlackBerry, at 73 million units sold, will edge past iPhone to account for 13.9 percent. (The big loser in Gartner's forecast: Windows Mobile, which will generate anticipated 2012 sales of 47.7 million--just 9 percent of the global market.)
Gartner isn't the only firm predicting the iPhone's dominance will wane in the years ahead--according to Ovum, while the App Store is presently responsible for about 70 percent of the total application download market, its share will decline to less than 20 percent by 2014. Ovum expects the total number of application downloads (including both free and premium applications) will grow from 491 million worldwide in 2008 to 18.7 billion in 2014, a CAGR of 83 percent across the forecast period. Ovum estimates that the global market will grow by a CAGR of 153 percent between 2008 and 2011 before dropping to around 33 percent between 2011 and 2014, a decline blamed on the emergence of browser-based services and other substitutes for app downloads. Whether you agree or disagree with the Gartner and Ovum forecasts, it does seem like the smartphone market is about to enter a distinct new phase in its evolution, galvanized by a groundswell of operator and manufacturer support for Android--no one's suggesting the last few years have been boring, but it looks like things are about to get even more interesting. -Jason