Sony Ericsson saw various positives in its quarterly results, notably an increase in smartphone revenues. But this came at the expense of volume, and it has fallen out of the overall handset top five.
The joint venture now lies in sixth place worldwide, according to research by iSuppli.
Total handset shipments increased 4.8% year-on-year in the third quarter, but this was not sufficient to fend off the higher growth rates of challengers like ZTE.
The top five now consists of Nokia, Samsung, LG, ZTE and RIM, though only the big three have 10% share or more, with other players separated only by small amounts.
According to iSuppli's estimates, Nokia had a 36.2% share in the quarter, Samsung had 20.8% and LG 10%. ZTE has widened its lead over the rest of the pack, with 4.2% compared to RIM's 3.7%, but RIM is only marginally ahead of Sony Ericsson’s 3.6%, so the positions could well be reversed in Q4.
Lower down the top ten, the power of Chinese brands is shown by TCL-Alcatel, which was just ahead of Apple and Motorola, (though the smallest whisker separated these three, all on around 2.7%). Huawei rounded out the top 10 with 2.2%.
In smartphones, however, SEMC was the fourth fastest growing brand, with a 15.4% unit increase.
“With its shift in focus from volume to value-add, Sony Ericsson is positioning itself to cash in on the fastest growing and most profitable segment of the global wireless market,” said senior analyst Tina Teng.
“Given that cellphone penetration has reached 73.4% of the earth's population, shipment growth is slowing markedly.”
Another analyst report, from Strategy Analytics, said that global smartphone shipments grew to 77m units in the third quarter, and Apple overtook RIM to take second place to Nokia. The growth rate of 78% was the fastest since the middle of the decade.
Nokia was also on a steep growth curve, given its size, shipping record smartphone numbers of 26m, up from 16.4m in the year-ago quarter. But this 61% rise was below the market as a whole and the Finnish giant's smartphone market share slipped from 37.8% to 34.3%.
Also losing share was RIM, which slid into third place and dropped from 20% to 16%, mainly because of limited presence in high end touchscreen models. Both RIM and Nokia will be hoping their latest launches, Torch and N8, make a difference to these statistics when Q4 is over.
RIM shipped 12.4m units in [its most recent] quarter, which was up a respectable 45%, but again, below the market curve. By contrast, Apple almost doubled its units, from 7.4m to 14.1m, to grab RIM's coveted second position in the sector, increasing its share from 17% to 18.3%.
Global shipments of handsets are set to rise at a CAGR of 6.9% from 2009 to 2014, down from the 13.9% CAGR for the period from 2003 to 2008, iSuppli said. Smartphone shipments will rise by 22.7% from 2009 to 2014.
Nokia said last week it expected the phone market to grow by more than 10% this year, slightly more than it had previously anticipated, though its share will decline from 2009.
This article originally appeared in Rethink Wireless