Q3 handset earnings to spotlight smartphone pressure

The third quarter earnings season is dawning, and major handset makers will be under scrutiny for signs of pressure from smaller smartphone makers.

Click here for an analysis of the handset market in the second quarter.The wider handset market is expected to grow by around 10 percent to 11 percent this year, by most analysts' estimates, led by strong growth in smartphones. In the third quarter, the handset market grew 10.1 percent from a year ago, according to a Reuters poll of 32 analysts. Research firm IDC said in September it expects the smartphone market to grow 55 percent this year, a greater increase than its previous prediction.

Still, large handset makers such as Nokia (NYSE:NOK) and LG will be under pressure to show signs of a turnaround in smartphones. Both companies recently replaced their CEOs amid weaker handset sales. So far, Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) and HTC have reported strong quarters on higher demand for smartphones. Sony Ericsson, which is trying to maintain its progress on the back of Google's Android platform, is expected to report shipments of 12 million handsets when it reports Oct. 15, which would be a slight increase from the second quarter.

Apple, which is rapidly climbing the ranks of the world's largest handset makers, is expected to report roughly 11.5 million iPhone shipments when it reports Oct. 18.

Nokia is expected to keep its shipment volumes steady, but likely will lose market share to Samsung and Apple.

As for smartphone operating systems, Gartner expect Symbian, which is heavily backed by Nokia but which recently lost the support of Samsung and Sony Ericsson, will remain the world's top smartphone platform by market share through 2014. However, according to Gartner, Android will capture 17.7 percent of the smartphone market this year, slightly more than BlackBerry's 17.5 percent share. Symbian will remain on top with 40.1 percent this year, while Apple's iOS will come in fourth with 15.4 percent of the market in 2010.  

For more:
- see this Q3 preview page
- see this Reuters article

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Gartner: Android will surpass RIM's BlackBerry this year
IDC: Smartphone shipments to surge 55% this year