IDC: BlackBerry takes 3rd spot in 4th quarter of 2010

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By Adam Zeis on 7 Feb 2011 01:06 pm EST

According to the latest IDC report, Research In Motion has stayed strong over the last quarter of 2010 coming in at the number 3 spot of the smartphone market worldwide. Beat out by Nokia and Apple (number 1 and 2 respectively), RIM's numbers held strong thanks to a huge boost from consumers outside of North America. While interest is still strong in North America, rising competition from other smartphone makers will keep the battle for the top closer than ever. RIM shipped over 14 million units in the fourth quarter of 2010 (up 4 million from 2009) and had a 36.4% growth from the previous year. Keep reading for the full press release.

Android Rises, Symbian and Windows Phone 7 Launch as Worldwide Smartphone Shipments Increase 87.2% Year Over Year, According to IDC

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. February 7, 2011 - The worldwide smartphone market ended the quarter and the year on a high note, with vendors shipping record volumes of units. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, vendors shipped a total of 100.9 million smartphones during the fourth quarter of 2010 (4Q10), up 87.2% from the 53.9 million smartphones shipped during 4Q09. For the full year, vendors shipped a total of 302.6 million smartphones worldwide, up 74.4% from the 173.5 million smartphones shipped in 2009.

"Android continues to gain by leaps and bounds, helping to drive the smartphone market," said Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC's Mobile Phone Technology and Trends team. "It has become the cornerstone of multiple vendors' smartphone strategies, and has quickly become a challenger to market leader Symbian. Although Symbian has the backing of market leader Nokia, Android has multiple vendors, including HTC, LG Electronics, Motorola, Samsung and a growing list of companies deploying Android on their devices."

Adding to the competitive landscape is the entrance of two refreshed operating systems, Symbian^3 and Windows Phone 7. "In their first quarter of commercial availability, both Symbian^3 and Windows Phone 7 ramped up quickly, just in time for the holidays," added Llamas. "By the end of the quarter, Nokia had shipped five million Symbian^3 units while Windows Phone 7 vendors shipped more than 1.5 million units. Now, with the holiday quarter over, both platforms will need to sustain this initial growth in the quarters to come."

Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker program, said component suppliers will help drive sustained interest in smartphones. "Mobile phone users will find compelling reasons to turn in their older models as new ones are launched with dual-core processors and near-field communication chips," he said.

Market Outlook

IDC expects further gains for the smartphone market in 2011, as smartphone vendors deepen and broaden their offerings. "The high-end of the market has been important to help grow the smartphone market in recent years," noted Llamas. "IDC expects vendors to provide more mid-range and low-end smartphones at lower prices to reach the mass market. In the same manner, even high-end devices will become available at lower prices. This will result in greater competition and more selection for users."

Top Five Smartphone Vendors

Nokia noted the positive progress of its new Symbian^3 smartphones during 4Q10: five million units combined from the N8, C7, and C601 worldwide, a strong showing given their recent introduction to the market. At the same time, Nokia's volumes are largely comprised of older devices, while MeeGo-powered devices have yet to arrive on the market. In addition, Nokia continues to struggle in the North America market. The recent cancellation of the X7 smartphone at AT&T highlights Nokia's challenges and a new device has yet to be revealed.

Apple's iPhone gained more ground in the worldwide smartphone market, with shipment volume growth coming from Asia/Pacific and Japan. In addition, Apple made further inroads into the enterprise market, with more companies adding Apple to their approved smartphone list and increased development of corporate-centered applications. Rumors of an iPhone 5 have begun to heat up the blogosphere, with many expecting a new design and perhaps a mobile wallet.

Research In Motion reached a new shipment volume for a single quarter in 4Q10, and posted nearly identical year-over-year growth for both the quarter and the year. Driving growth was stronger interest from outside North America, with several markets posting double-digit gains. Meanwhile, RIM continued to enjoy market leadership in North America, but nonetheless saw mounting challenges from the competition. Popular devices for the quarter included the BlackBerry Torch and the BlackBerry Curve 3G.

Samsung took top honors for having the largest year-over-year improvement for both the quarter and for the year, an accomplishment largely fueled by its popular Galaxy S series smartphones. New Galaxy devices are expected to launch, including the Galaxy Fit, Ace, and Mini. Not to be overlooked are Samsung's bada-branded smartphones, as well as its emerging Windows Phone smartphones, both of which received a warm reception. Samsung has set its sights on growing market share at least 40% in 2011.

HTC reaped triple-digit growth for both the quarter and for the year, second only to Samsung. Driving its success were its increased brand awareness, market positioning, and a series of devices that have resonated well with users and carriers alike. Following its success in 2010, the company known for being 'quietly brilliant' aims to become a preferred brand for smartphone users in 2011, while leveraging its scalability to drive business in Asia/Pacific and other emerging markets.

Topics: IDC News & Rumors

Adam Zeis Adam Zeis "Mobile Nations Content Strategist" 3740 (articles) 2892 (forum posts)

Reader comments

IDC: BlackBerry takes 3rd spot in 4th quarter of 2010


Correct me if im wrong, but it doesnt specifies, how many devices where sold all over the world for each company ? (Not 4Q10 i mean in the entire year)

Again, RIM will always be at a disadvantage since they don't report December sales until March. It's never a true 4Q which is the biggest quarter for sales.

Show that RIM is still at #2 with 48.8 million devices shipped in 2010, with at 16.1% market share. Verses Apple at #3 with 47.5 million devices shipped, with at 15.5% market share.

Basically they are tied in you allow for a margin of error....

So RIM looks to still be number #2 in Worldwide Sales with a 41% increase over the previous year. Unfortunately Apple with just one device saw an 89% increase, Samsung a 318% increase and HTC a 165% increase.

RIM is selling devices, and they are growing.... just not as fast as everyone else. But when the Curve is one of your most popular devices? Does that tell you where you are heading.

Your first paragraph is important but the percentages reported in the second have little meaning. Example: If I sold one phone this year and 3 next then I'll have 200% growth beating Apple, Samsung and HTC, but I've only sold 3 phones.

I don't get the last paragraph either. Or at least I don't agree that what you seem to imply is necessarily true. People on here are obsessed by the latest cutting edge phone. However, I could tell the following story. Curve growth is market expanding whether it be among young people in North America or general populations overseas. As each group grows wealthier the trick will be to keep selling them phones. This doesn't mean you need cutting edge phones today. In fact it isn't clear that you need them tomorrow either, it means you need to keep producing phones that people can trade up to and stay with your company.

I'm not saying you never need cutting edge phones and I do think RIM might be a little bit to obsessive about battery life. I just think that the conclusion you seem to imply from your last statement may not be correct in the long run.

Then forget the percentages...
RIM sold 34.5 million phones in 2009, 48.8 million in 2010.
APPLE sold 25.1 million phones in 2009, 47.5 million in 2010.
Samsung sold 5.5 million phones in 2009, 23 million in 2010.
HTC sold 8.1 million phones in 2009, 21.5 million in 2010.

Other than Nokia, RIM still sold the most which is great. But the other guys are growing their sales at a much faster rate... either RIM is doing something wrong (which I believe) or they have just about reach market saturation.

My other point is simple and speaks to what I see RIM doing wrong... they have become a cheap phone manufacture. Go into most retail outlet and Blackberry's are BOGO or less than $100... right now the TORCH is the TOP of RIM's line up add that to the Curve being their TOP seller - just doesn't sound like a tech company that is going anywhere.

Now 2010 MAYBE the year RIM turns it all around... or it maybe just another year of RIM only putting out minimum hardware. And we have no idea if we will see the very much needed QNX or an LTE phone this year.

Those numbers are for a given quarter right?

Analyzing growth using quarterly numbers are inaccurate if not flawed. A given company might not have introduced a new phone in quarter X the year before but did so this year. Boom! You see a big "growth" in phones shipment for that given quarter compared to last year.

So Samsung selling 5.5 million phones in Q4 2009 is probably because they did not release any new and hot phone during that period.

I'm amazed that so many manufacturers for android & every carrier suports it & they still aren't even 3rd? Wow

The article is comparing smartphone manufacturers. Not operating systems. Android is just an operating system.

That's the point. Android is so highly hailed, but the fact that the operating system is barely 3rd place to a company with a dozen phones (RIM), a company with 1 (iOS), and a company shipping primarily old phones to 3rd world countries (Nokia) says plenty. It's on every carrier and has 2 dozen (or more) devices. It's growing fast, yeah, but it's not killing RIM like the Android fanboys would like you to believe.

But of course this is what a sampling of google news says
Android Smartphones Gain Market Share as Nokia, BlackBerry Lose, IDC Says
Bloomberg - Amy Thomson - ‎4 hours ago‎
Research In Motion Ltd., which sells BlackBerry phones on its own operating system, fell to 14.5 percent of the market from 19.9 percent a year ago. ...

Apple, Android surge in 2010; Nokia, RIM slip CNET

IDC: Apple still leads RIM as No. 2 worldwide smartphone maker Apple Insider

Reality be damned! RIM is dead as far aas the US media is concerned.

I really want to see the headlines on tablet sales in 2011. I will bet against "iPad sees huge market share decline" and for "iPad sales continue to dominate"

Both headlines will likely be true, but we won't get the first one.

Again, this is a list of Hardware Manufactures, it is not based on what OS they are running. There are other reports that are broken down by OS and in those Android is beating both Apple and RIM.

No, they're not. Post a link where you can find that Android OS is more prominent than BB or iOS. You can't, because it's not happening yet.

They're gaining market share. Considering the fact that this article says that over 2009 smartphones nearly doubled, it's no surprise that RIM is losing market share. You can't have an exploding market like this and expect RIM to keep their same market share. Considering how many people only get a smartphone for an iPhone? Or how many people buy a phone that looks cool and makes them look cool and it just happens to have Android or BB on it? I know tons of people who do that and they couldn't care less about what OS it is, be it Android or BB or whatever.

So, considering that RIM produces hardware AND software, and they are still in the top 3 of both categories says plenty to the fact that they aren't losing any ground in sales and as a company. Just losing ground in market share as the market booms.