Analyzing the world's 11 biggest handset makers in Q3 2012


The numbers are in, and it's time to make sense of the data. ABI Research's Michael Morgan checks out the world's 11 largest branded cell phone makers in the third quarter of 2012, 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 a full top 11 (and 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, second quarter 2010 rankings, third quarter 2010 rankings, fourth quarter 2010 rankings, first quarter 2011 rankings, second quarter 2011 rankings, fourth quarter 2011 rankings, first quarter 2012 rankings and second quarter 2012 rankings.

(And click here for a look at the third quarter earnings season, and here for a list of the top U.S. wireless carriers in the third quarter.)

Third quarter 2012 market share by OEM

OEM shipments from first quarter 2010 to the third quarter 2012

Overall smartphone shipments vs. non smartphones

Analysis from ABI's Michael Morgan

Shipments Vendor Analysis
102.6 million Samsung In Q3 Samsung extended its handset leadership over Nokia and its smartphone leadership over Apple with over 55 million smartphones shippped. Although  shipments of the Galaxy S III started in Q2, shipments of the S III have already reached 30 million and with the Note II coming to market, Samsung is likely to have another record quarter in Q4.
82.9 million Nokia Considering the fact that Nokia's Windows Phone 7 devices were made obsolete by the Windows Phone 8 announcement, it is surprising that Nokia was able to muster 6.3 million in smartphone shipments in Q3. On the feature phone side, Nokia's line of Asha handsets continued to find market sucess for consumers looking for a "smartphone-like" experience. 
26.9 million Apple While a slowdown in Q3 shipments was expected, it was assumed that the launch of the iPhone 5 would bring Apple back to it's old 80 percent growth levels. Unfortunately,  the initial sales of the iPhone 5 were a little muted due to the limited number of lauch countries in Q3. ABI Research believes that even with a blockbuster quarter of 50 million iPhones in Q4, Apple will not be able to reach the growth rates of its past.
17.6 million ZTE Even with a slight dip in shipments, ZTE was able to capture the fourth position in Q3 after breaking into the top five for the first time last quarter. Having risen from the realm of low-cost handsets and low-end smartphones, ZTE's structure is well adapted to winning market share in an enviroment of shrinking ASP's and margins. ABI Research believes that ZTE's brand strength in its home market of China, will go a long way to keeping ZTE at the top of the list of global handset OEMs. The effects of the recent U.S. reports of ZTE and Huawei being a security threat have yet to manifest, but ABI Research believes this will have more political implications than business implications.
14.4 million LG LG Shipments increased 10 percent sequentially and the company reagained its profitable status once again. LG will continue its strategy of focusing on LTE smartphones going forward, particularly as this strategy is begining to deliver a profitable quarter here and there. ABI Research believes that winning in this space will be difficult for LG in markets outside of South Korea as Samsung continues to take over every market it touches.
12.1 million Huawei Historically considered a low-cost Chinese handset OEM, Huawei shares the international  stage with ZTE and TCL/Alcatel, as a rising star from China. Despite being named a potential security threat in the U.S.,  the "double secret probation" status did not keep Huawei from growing its shipments in Q3.
10.5 million TCL (Alcatel) TCL was able to show a 11.8 percent year-over-year growth in a quarter where most OEMs were citing competitive and macro economic excuses for their limited growth. Furhtermore TCL delivered 2 million smartphone shipments in Q3 which represents a 1,200+ percent growth year-over-year. TCL has also been able to grow its feature phone shipments and is actively gaining in the Chinese market. ABI Research believes that TCL is yet another Chinese dragon with the teeth to win at home and abroad, and will soon pass Huawei in terms of handset shipments.
8.8 million Sony Mobile And just like that Sony is crawling its way back up the list of top ten OEMs. While Sony did drop out of the top ten last quarter, ABI Research expects that Sony can hold its own in the top ten, although it will likely come from a drop in shipments of its competition more than Sony's expected growth. Much like the Motorola acquisition, Sony has yet to put it's stamp on the devices that are currently in the market, but if it is done properly, Sony can offer Sony Mobile a treasure trove of technology, ecosystem and content support.
7.4 million Blackberry (RIM) Q3 was a another holding pattern quarter for RIM and its position has risen to No. 9 on the list. On the bright side, RIM did out perform Nokia, Motorola and HTC in terms of smartphone shipments.  ABI Research believes that BlackBerry 10 could be a competitive platform, but may arrive too late for RIM to remain in the top ten list. ABI Research believes that finding a company to buy or license BB10 will be very difficult considering that the competitors that need a new OS still can't afford one, and those that can afford one, don't need it.
7.3 million Motorola With the acquisition complete and Motorola showing on the financial statements of Google, there is still a lot of speculation as to how Google will manage its $12 billion dollar baby. With the latest portfolio of  3 device types and one extra device featuring an Intel based application processor, it appears that Google wants its Motorola phones to have great battery life, great screens, and minimal marketing. 
7.1 million HTC With shipments continuing to drop, HTC may not be on the top 11 or even the top 12 in Q4. HTC has offered guidance that sales in Q4 will be even lower than Q3. Considering that Q4 is a very important quarter, HTC's inability to grow shipments during the holiday season is very troubling indeed. 


The raw data

2012 Q3 Handset Shipment Market Share by OEM

Samsung 25.9%
Nokia 21.0%
Apple 6.8%
ZTE 4.4%
LG 3.6%
Blackberry (RIM) 1.9%
Huawei 3.1%
Motorola 1.8%
TCL (Alcatel) 2.7%
Sony Mobile 2.2%
HTC 1.8%
Other 24.8%


Handset Shipments by Vendor World Market: 1Q-2010 to 3Q-2012
  1Q 2010 2Q 2010 3Q 2010 4Q 2010 1Q 2011 2Q 2011 3Q 2011 4Q 2011 1Q 2012 2Q 2012 3Q 2012
Nokia 107.8 111.1 110.4 123.7 108.5  88.5 106.5 113.5  82.7  83.7  82.9
Samsung  64.3  63.8  71.4  80.7  70.0  74.0  85.0  93.5  93.8  94.2 102.6
LG  27.1  30.6  28.4  30.6  24.5  24.8  21.1  20.0  13.7  13.1  14.4
Sony Mobile  10.5  11.0  10.4  11.2   8.1   7.6   9.5   9.0   7.3   7.4   8.8
Motorola   8.5   8.3   9.1  11.3   9.0  10.6  12.9  10.3   8.8   8.1   7.3
RIM  10.5  11.2  12.1  14.2  14.9  13.2  11.8  14.1  11.1   7.8   7.4
Apple   8.8   8.4  14.1  16.2  18.7  20.3  17.1  37.0  35.1  26.0  26.9
HTC   3.3   5.4   6.8   9.1   9.7  12.1  13.2  10.1   6.7   8.3   7.1
Huawei   6.1   6.7   6.9   7.7   9.1  11.9  14.2  16.3  10.5  10.8  12.1
ZTE   8.0   9.9   8.6   9.6  15.2  19.6  18.9  20.0  18.9  19.7  17.6
TCL (Alcatel Mobile Phones) 2.9 7.6 9.0  12.5 7.7 8.9 9.4 8.1 7.8  10.8  10.5
Others  45.3  47.2  59.0  63.1  72.5  88.8  75.2  71.4  66.1  88.6  98.0


Analyzing the world's 11 biggest handset makers in Q3 2012