Analyzing the world's 10 biggest handset makers in Q3

ABI Michael MorganThe numbers are in, and it's time to make sense of the data. ABI Research analyst Michael Morgan checks out the world's 10 largest branded cell phone makers in the third quarter of 2010, providing sales data as well as insight into their strategy and competitive position in the market.

Though most research firms only list the market's top five handset makers, ABI lists the full top 10 (and, for the first time, the firm is providing shipment numbers for all of the vendors listed).

A few notes: ABI's numbers represent "sell in," or phone shipments into the retail channel, rather than "sell out," or sales to consumers. Further, ABI's ranking only counts phones that carry the manufacturer's brand. Therefore, phones that bandy a carrier's logo without a hint of which company actually built the device are not counted.

And see ABI's first quarter 2009 rankings, second quarter 2009 rankings , third quarter 2009 rankings, fourth quarter 2009 rankings and second quarter 2010 rankings. (Yes, somehow we missed the first quarter of 2010. We'll make it up to you, we promise.)

Vendor Shipments (in millions) Growth
3Q 2009 2Q 2010 3Q 2010 QoQ
nokia 108.5 111.1 110.4 -0.6% 1.8%
Analysis from ABI's Michael Morgan: Nokia handset shipments decreased slightly in Q3 while the overall market grew 5 percent sequentially. As a result Nokia's market share fell to 31.9 percent in the third quarter. The world's largest handset OEM has been losing market share in emerging markets where the low-cost handsets that make up 80 percent of its shipments are facing competition from small local OEMs. The silver lining to this trend is that the increasing proportion of smartphone shipments should raise Nokia's margins and average selling price per device.
samsung  60.2  63.8        71.4 11.9% 18.6%
Analysis from ABI's Michael Morgan: In the last month of Q2 Samsung's newest smartphone platform the Galaxy S sold 500,000 units in its home market of South Korea. In Q3 Samsung released the Galaxy platform internationally and sold an additional 6.5 million. Along with the 1.5 million Bada smartphones sold in Q3 Samsung has made good on their promise to capture 10 percent of the smartphone market. While taking the smartphone world by storm, Samsung also maintained growth in the shrinking feature phone segment that makes up 80 percent of its shipments and outperformed the market as a whole. ABI Research believes that these across the board improvements signifies that Samsung has the potential to go toe-to-toe with Nokia in all but the lowest cost handset segments.
lg  31.6  30.6        28.4 -7.2% -10.1%
Analysis from ABI's Michael Morgan: LG's shipments declined 7.2 percent from Q3 as the company continues to bleed market share, a trend that began in Q3 2009. Unsatisfied with the progress of its budding smartphone strategy, and slipping handset sales, LG's CEO stepped down in Q3. It is a shame that after the CEO resigned, the LG Optimus smartphone developed under his leadership finally delivered 1 million units in 40 days. ABI Research believes that LG will need to follow Samsung's lead and shift away from the shrinking feature phone segment that has hampered LG's ability to grow.
apple   7.4   8.4        14.1 67.9% 90.5%
Analysis from ABI's Michael Morgan: Driven by the global release of the iPhone 4, Apple skyrocketed to 14.1 million shipments in Q3 and delivered 68 percent growth over Q2. Even though Apple does not serve key market segments such as feature phones, low cost smartphones, CDMA phones, and Qwerty phones, Apple has still reached the top 5. The iPhone 4 has proven that Apple can continually deliver the features, style and magic that will drive consumers to pay top dollar for the privileged of ownership. ABI Research believes that Apple's loyal ownership base will provide stability while addressing new segments such as CDMA iPhones will deliver continued growth over coming couple of years for Apple.
Research in motion   8.5  11.2        12.3 9.8% 44.7%
Analysis from ABI's Michael Morgan: From 2002 through 2009 RIM had sold 80 million handsets. At RIM's current pace, ABI Research estimates that 2010 will account for 30 percent of every handset ever sold by RIM. While Blackberry's have always been considered the hallmark device of the corporate world, RIM has also become a highly desired consumer product in both the youth segment and emerging international markets. In Q3 RIM delivered a new OS, BlackBerry 6 on the BlackBerry Torch. The latest OS offers greatly improved (and needed) web browsing and media capabilities to the already best in class messaging capabilities of the RIM product line. To maintain its growth and market share in today's hyper competitive market, RIM will need to walk a fine line to keep its stable enterprise customer happy while grabbing consumer's away from the onslaught of the iPhone and Android.
Sony ericsson  13.1  11.0        10.4 -5.5% -20.6%
Analysis from ABI's Michael Morgan: Q3 represents the eigth quarter in a row that Sony Ericsson has lost market share. Sony Ericsson handsets have historically focused on the feature phone segment and specialized in music or camera phones. Consumers have become more demanding, and they have demanded that a phone should do it all; making strength in one feature less desirable than mediocrity in all features. Sony Erisson has decided to answer this call through the development of a smartphone portfolio that leverages the momentum of the Android operating system. ABI Research believes that Sony Ericsson needs to help consumers understand what it stands for in the smartphone space and move beyond simply adding a custom UI to Android or else it may become another 'also ran' in today's smartphone boom.
ZTE   8.1   9.9           9.9 0.0% 22.2%
Analysis from ABI's Michael Morgan: ZTE has made a name for itself with low-cost handsets in emerging/developing markets such as India, China, Latin America and Africa. Leveraging manufacturing locations in 50 countries, ZTE is able to deliver low-cost handsets either under the ZTE brand or white-label devices for carrier branded handsets for large operators such as Vodafone. ZTEs focus on emerging markets has served it well as Nokia bleeds share in these segments, which are predicted to deliver the greatest number of new wireless customers in the coming years. ZTE is also intensifying its efforts to develop its brand strength and recognition in developed markets such as the US where it hopes to generate 50% of its US revenues from handset sales. ZTE is also beginning to show small wins with its low-cost smartphones which address the needs of prepaid consumers who have to pay full price for their handsets but want still want advanced features.
Motorola  13.8   8.3           9.1 9.6% -34.1%
Analysis from ABI's Michael Morgan: Beginning in Q4 2009 and carrying through Q3, Motorola has delivered top-of-mind smartphones such as the Droid, and most recently the Droid X and Droid Pro. In Q3, 3.8 million of the 9.1 million handsets Motorola shipped were smartphones, and for the first time since Q3 2006 Motorola did not lose market share, which grew from 2.58 percent to 2.62 percent. While this may be represent the bottom of the slide for Motorola, the company will need more than just Verizon Wireless smartphone sales to keep things going. ABI Research believes that Motorola must focus on converting its feature phone sales to smartphone sales instead of bleeding feature phone sales and compensating with smartphone sales.
Huawei   3.9   6.7           6.9 3.0% 76.9%
Analysis from ABI's Michael Morgan: Much like ZTE, Huawei is one of China's leading telecom infrastructure companies, with a strong global reach in all regions. Huawei is also in the business of making low-cost and white-label devices along side their branded devices. Huawei has extended its low cost capabilities into the smartphone space with the T-Mobile Pulse, an Android-based entry-level smartphones for prepaid consumers. Huawei also carries aspirations of penetrating the U.S. market and is actively developing its portfolio to meet the tastes of U.S. carriers. T-Mobile USA began selling the Comet, a low-cost Android smartphone that Huawei developed as the Ideos. However there are often concerns around whether the U.S. will welcome Huawei's advances amid security concerns. In the meantime, Huawei will still be able to leverage its strong relationships in a Chinese market that is hungry for the type of low-cost smartphones it can provide.
htc   2.8   5.4   6.8 25.9% 142.9%
Analysis from ABI's Michael Morgan: The counte- point to Motorola's Android success is HTC and its Droid Incredible and EVO 4G smartphones. Unlike Motorola, HTC does not have to worry about maintaining a feature phone strategy as it focuses on highly innovative device designs for the smartphone segment. ABI Research believes that HTC shipments were slightly hindered in Q3 due to component shortages, however 143 oercent YoY growth is nothing to shake a stick at. HTC does not have the market presence of Samsung or as many Android models as Motorola, however ABI Research believes that HTC's smaller size and focused design efforts deliver a product portfolio that is ahead of the curve and nimble enough to keep up with rapidly shifting consumer desires.
Total top 10 257.9 266.4 279.7 5.0% 8.5%
Total Handsets 292.2 321.2 346.2 7.8% 18.5%
Top 10 % of market 88% 83% 81% - -
Analyzing the world's 10 biggest handset makers in Q3