Mobile Marketer has re-launched! Click here to learn more!

Apple's iPhone delivers Q2 success even as global smartphone market stalls

IOS saw smartphone shipments in the United States rise from 5.9 million units to 7.9 million units during the second quarter of this year while Android, BlackBerry and others shipped less, according to a new report from Strategy Analytics.  

The second quarter saw one of the slowest growth rates ever experienced by the United States smartphone market as a result of a volatile economy, maturing penetration of smartphones among contract mobile subscribers and major operators tightening their upgrade policies to enhance profits. Smartphone shipments were slow on a global basis, as well.

?Global smartphone shipments grew just 32 percent to 146 million units in Q2 2012, the industry?s slowest growth rate for almost three years,? said Neil Shah, senior analyst for the global wireless practice at Strategy Analytics, Newton, MA.

?Global smartphone penetration of total handsets will continue to grow but the pace of the growth might slow down slightly due to growing uncertain macroeconomic environment especially in developed markets such as Europe and North America," he said.

Samsung succeeds
While shipments for Android are slowing, there are individual success stories.

In the second quarter, Samsung shipped 50.5 million smartphone units globally, up significantly from 20.2 million a year ago.

Samsung also increased its market share significantly on a global basis, with its share of smartphone shipments reaching 34.6 percent, up from 18.3 percent.

?Samsung shipped 51 million smartphones worldwide in Q2 2012, the largest amount ever shipped by a vendor in a single quarter,? Mr. Shah said.

?Samsung and Apple combined now account for over half of all smartphones shipped worldwide, up from around one-third a year ago,? he said.

Apple?s mixed bag
Apple?s market share on a global basis declined slightly, dropping from 18.4 percent a year ago to 17.8 percent in the second quarter of 2012. During the same period, Apple?s shipments increased from 20.3 million to 26 million.

Nokia?s market share dropped from 15.1 percent to 7 percent while shipments dropped from 16.7 million to 10.2 million.

Apple is expected to launch a new iPhone in the early fall, an event that could drive further growth for iOS and help it regain share during the holiday season.

?IPhone volumes grew annually with popularity of iPhone as well as its distribution footprint spread beyond developed markets into developing markets such as China, Brazil and Russia,? Mr. Shah said.

?However, iPhone?s demand is being hit due to its annual product introduction cycle as the hype builds for its newer models causing some Apple fans and operators holding off current iPhone purchases in this anticipation,? he said.

?Secondly, Apple demands significant subsidy share from carriers to allow sale of its popular iPhone. However, Apple has been under pressure now to reduce its prices as operators slash their subsidy budgets to increase their EBITDA margins in this highly recessionary environment which may further challenge iPhone?s growth moving ahead.

Android peaks
Android lost market share in the second quarter, with its share of U.S. smartphone shipments totaling 56.3 percent, down from 60.6 percent. Apple, on the other hand, increased its share of the U.S. smartphone market from 23.2 percent to 33.2 percent.

Overall U.S. smartphone shipments totaled 24 million units in the second quarter, down five percent from the same quarter a year ago.

BlackBerry also lost market share in the U.S. during the second quarter as consumers, businesses and operators continue to be frustrated by BlackBerry?s limited touch screen smartphone portfolio and repeated delays in the new BB 10 operating system.

As a result, BlackBerry?s share of smartphone shipments dropped from 11 percent a year ago to seven percent.

While Android remains the number one smartphone platform by volume, it is increasingly under pressure from other platforms.

?Globally Android shipments share of total smartphones has been on rise as it expands to bigger emerging markets such as China, India and Brazil at the expense of Symbian and Blackberry decline,? Mr. Shah said.

?But we are seeing in some markets Android?s share is peaking and consumers, carriers look forward to move and support other platforms,? he said. ?For example, Android smartphone market share declines to 56 percent in United States in Q2 2012 from a peak of 60 percent in the same quarter last year as some consumers switched to Apple and Microsoft platforms.?

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York