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By 6 February 2012 | Categories: news

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Following in the wake of Strategy Analytics’ (SA) and the International Data Corporation’s (IDC) latest research surrounding mobile phone shipments during Q4 2011, market research firm Canalys has announced its analysis of the mobile market for this period.

According to Canalys’ Q4 2011 country-level smartphone shipment estimates, the total annual global shipments of smartphones exceeded that of client PCs (including tablets) for the first time.

The firm stated that mobile vendors shipped 158.5 million smartphones in Q4 2011, amounting to a year-on-year increase of 57%. Total global shipments for the whole of 2011 came to 487.7 million units, up 63% compared to 2010. By comparison, the global client PC market grew 15% last year to 414.6 million units, boosted by a 274% growth in tablet shipments that accounted for 15% of all client PC shipments during 2011.

At the mobile summit

Like both SA and the IDC before it, Canalys commended Apple’s performance as leading smartphone vendor, since it managed to ship 93.1 million iPhones in 2011. This represents a year-on-year increase of 96%, while also smashing the record for the most smartphones shipped globally by any single vendor within one quarter, beating Nokia’s previous record of 28.3 million set in Q4 2010.

Korean tech giant Samsung also had a strong end to its 2011, shipping 35.3 million smartphones in Q4 2011, assisting in bringing its yearly total to 91.9 million, compared to just 24.9 million in 2010.

Nokia

Canalys said that Nokia’s smartphone performance in Q4 gave cause for optimism, as it shipped 19.6 million smartphones, which is a decrease of 31% from the record high of a year earlier, but an increase of 17% from the previous quarter (Q3 2011). This total was helped along by 1.2 million Windows Phone OS-running smartphones as well as 600 000 shipments of its MeeGo-based N9 smartphone and enhanced Symbian-operating mobile devices. The Espoo-based mobile giant’s worldwide shipment for the year came to 77.3 million.

“Its first Windows Phone products, the Lumia 800 and 710, along with the recently announced Lumia 900 through AT&T in the US, have improved the outlook for Nokia,” said Canalys senior analyst, Tim Shepherd. “They are well-designed, competitive devices that demonstrate innovation is still alive within Nokia. But the battle is not over and it has huge challenges ahead.”

“Nokia must continue to build out its Lumia portfolio with devices tailored to address all price points and all the markets in which it aims to compete. It must hasten its transition from Symbian to Windows Phone around the world and, with Microsoft, promote and generate excitement for the platform and new products. And it must succeed in attracting more developers to build high quality, locally relevant apps.”

Research In Motion

Canadian smartphone and tablet maker Research In Motion concluded the year as the fourth largest smartphone vendor according to Canalys, by delivering an annual unit growth of 5%.

“There is no denying that RIM has had a tough year,” explained Canalys principal analyst, Pete Cunningham. “But when you consider that it is transitioning to a new platform it has done well to increase volume while remaining profitable; the latter point being something that many other vendors struggle with. The appointment of Thorsten Heins as CEO will bring new energy to the company while ensuring that it does not radically deviate from its overall strategy in this transitional year.”

Cunningham added that 2012 will become even more competitive within the mobile industry and that the BlackBerry maker needs its BlackBerry 10-powered devices out there as soon as possible in order to ensure that it retains its status as a major mobile player.

“In 2011 we saw a fall in demand for netbooks, and slowing demand for notebooks and desktops as a direct result of rising interest in pads,” said Chris Jones, Canalys VP and principal analyst.
“But pads have had negligible impact on smartphone volumes and markets across the globe have seen persistent and substantial growth through 2011. Smartphone shipments overtaking those of client PCs should be seen as a significant milestone.”

“In the space of a few years, smartphones have grown from being a niche product segment at the high-end of the mobile phone market to becoming a truly mass-market proposition. The greater availability of smartphones at lower price points has helped tremendously, but there has been a driving trend of increasing consumer appetite for internet browsing, content consumption and engaging with apps and services on mobile devices.”
 
In related news from the mobile world, features that will reportedly be making its way into the next version of Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS have recently come to light.

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