Worldwide smartphone sales slow in Q3

Worldwide smartphone market sales totaled 36.5 million units during the third quarter of 2008 according to market research firm Gartner, which called the 11.5 percent jump over Q3 2007 totals the "weakest year-on-year growth since [the company] began tracking the industry." Nokia retained its overall smartphone lead with 42.4 percent market share in Q3, but for the first time it suffered a sales decline of 3 percent year-over-year, moving 15.4 million units. Research In Motion captured second place with sales of 5.8 million and now boasts market share of 15.9 percent, an increase of 81.7 percent over the third quarter of 2007. Apple followed in third with iPhone sales of 4.7 million to claim 12.9 percent of the global smartphone market, a 327.5 percent leap over a year earlier. HTC came in fourth with sales of 1.6 million, translating to a 4.5 percent market share and 25.9 percent year-over-year growth, and Sharp placed fifth with sales of 1.2 million (3.4 percent market share and a 19.3 dropoff compared to Q3 2007 totals).

Gartner reports Symbian now commands 49.8 percent of the worldwide smartphone OS market, the first time its share fell below the 50 percent mark--a year ago, Symbian dominated 63.1 percent of smartphone OS sales, with the report blaming the decline on slumping Nokia sales as well as the continued weakness of the Japanese mobile device market. Gartner adds it expects Symbian's market share to continue to erode in the year ahead, although it will remain the dominant mobile OS. RIM's BlackBerry OS occupies second place with market share of 15.9 percent. Apple's Mac OS X came in third at 12.9 percent, edging past Microsoft's Windows Mobile (11.1 percent)--Gartner notes that for the first time, iPhone sales topped sales of WinMo devices worldwide and in North America. Linux is in fifth with 7.2 percent, and Palm OS is in sixth with 2.1 percent.

Gartner's other third quarter smartphone findings: North America is the fastest growing market, with a 68 percent increase--together, RIM and Apple accounted for more than 70 percent of the North American smartphone market in the third quarter. Smartphone sales in Europe, the Middle East and Africa increased 14 percent year-on-year, with Nokia's share sliding nearly 8 percentage points and Apple vaulting ahead of HTC and RIM to secure the number two spot. Sales in the Asia/Pacific market fell off 11 percent overall, with Japanese smartphone sales declining 23 percent--in Latin America, overall handset sales slumped, but the smartphone market grew 56 percent, galvanized by the introduction of Apple's iPhone 3G across dozens of markets. "In 2009, application portfolios will become one of the key strategic considerations for smartphone market players and, if successful, they deliver an alternative revenue stream and will improve consumer stickiness," said Gartner principal analyst Roberta Cozza in a prepared statement.

For more on Gartner's Q3 smartphone report:
- read this release

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