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Smartphones hit 37% marketshare in W Europe with Android poised to be leading OS in 2011

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As 2010 comes to a close, its is worth noting that smartphones now account for 37% of total phone shipments in Western Europe and, if the market continues as it is currently, Android will overtake Symbian to become the leading smartphone operating system (OS) in the region.

The numbers come from the European Mobile Phone Tracker, analyst IDC’s quarterly analysis of phone sales across Western Europe, and give a snap shot of the mobile phone marketplace in Q310.

Growth in the segment was supported by the surge in Android devices and strong sales of Apple’s iPhone 4. In the quarter vendors shipped over 4.3 million Android devices, with HTC, Sony Ericsson, and Samsung accounting for 84% of total Android shipments. This lifted the platform into third position, with 23% market share. Apple’s iPhone 4 was a major hit in the quarter, with 4.5 million units shipped, 102% higher than last year’s third quarter, giving iOS 24% market share.

Feature phones suffered their biggest decline ever, with shipments down 17% to 31.7 million units from the same period last year. Operators are moving their subsidies to smartphones and the segment has suffered from the lack of attractive devices, with price the major sales driver.

“In the third quarter, 24 of the 45 Android devices available in Western Europe were launched,” said Francisco Jeronimo, European mobile devices research manager, IDC. “This shows how actively phone makers are seeding operators with new Android models to meet market demand. The operating system is very popular among consumers due to its intuitive user interface, increasing number of free applications, and very competitive prices compared with other devices on the market. It’s also important to point out that the strong volumes Apple shipped during the quarter took it to third position among the biggest manufacturers in Western Europe, which is an impressive achievement after the antenna problems and the criticism the iPhone received when it was launched.”

Nokia’s total shipments increased 4% year on year to 17.2 million units, but market share slipped to 34% due to slower growth in its smartphones compared with the overall market.

Samsung’s shipments dropped 3% year on year to 13.9 million units and smartphones only represented 8% of total shipments. The Samsung Galaxy S, running Android, was a top seller with most operators but had a limited impact on the results due to its late launch in the quarter. 63% of total Samsung smartphone shipments run Android and 29% are based on Samsung’s bada. This platform will continue to play a major role in Samsung’s portfolio and more devices will be launched at lower price points.

Apple had an excellent quarter. The iPhone 4’s antenna problems didn’t affect its sales, and it shipped 4.5 million units, 102% higher than in the previous year — making it the third-biggest manufacturer in the region. Apple retained second position in the smartphone segment and closed the gap with Nokia.

Sony Ericsson’s successful Android strategy and products kept it in the top 5 smartphone vendors, placing it in fourth spot with 10.6% market share, one place ahead of HTC, though fierce competition from HTC, Samsung, and LG is expected to negatively impact Sony Ericsson’s market share.

LG’s performance in the quarter was poor, with shipments declining 48% to 2.7 million units from 3Q09. Unlike Samsung, LG has not been able to bundle its feature phones with smartphones to push its sales due to the lack of a strong smartphone portfolio. LG feature phones dropped 54% in 3Q10 to 2.4 million units, from 5.1 million units a year ago.

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