Nokia struggles to retain smartphone crown

The undisputed king of the smartphone segment is Nokia--worldwide smartphone sales grew 3.7 per cent on the year to 38.1 million units in Q4/08--said the research firm Gartner. And, as a proportion of all mobile-device sales, these devices remained relatively stable at 12 per cent in Q4, compared with 11 per cent a year earlier; a creditable performance given the worldwide financial upheavals.

But are the days of this Nordic ruler numbered? Gartner claims Nokia's share of the global smartphone market slumped by more than 10 per cent in Q4/08 as rivals such as Samsung, RIM, HTC and Apple made significant gains. Samsung entered the top five vendors ranking for the first time, replacing Sharp. According to Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner, the focus from operators and smartphone vendors on increasing their smartphone portfolios remained very strong. "Samsung, RIM, HTC and Apple saw their volumes and share increase during 2008, thanks to their ability to offer compelling device experiences and touch interfaces."

Cozza maintained while Nokia's entry-level smartphone range would continue to offer good value for money, the company remains more exposed to pressure from competition in the higher end of the consumer smartphone market, not helped as its Nseries loses its appeal.

Of further concern was the decline in the global market share by the Nokia-owned smartphone OS developer Symbian. This company saw its share decreased to 47.1 per cent in Q4/08, down from its 2007 share of 62.3 per cent. By contrast, RIM successfully grew its year-on-year share of the global smartphone market to 19.5 per cent from 10.9 per cent.

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