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Smartphones lead the way with Android becoming the OS of choice across Europe

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The Western European mobile phone market grew 3.2% year-on-year to 58.7 million units in the fourth quarter of 2010, with smartphones leading the way, representing 44% of the total, according to IDC’s European Mobile Phone Tracker. And Android is fast becoming the OS of choice across Europe.

Android grew 1580% year-on-year to 7.9 million units from 470,000 thousand a year ago. The iOS increased 66% in 4Q10 compared to 3Q09 as more operators launched the iPhone4. The new Windows Phone 7 from Microsoft reversed its fortunes and grew 18% year-on-year and 100% sequentially. The growth was limited by the soft launch in most countries (English version only) and the lack of local languages. Nevertheless, the feedback from operators and end-users was particularly promising for the OS.

“The last quarter of 2010 clearly shows the trends for the coming years in Western Europe. The Western European mobile phone market will be dominated by smartphones, and Android will be the king of the hill,” said Francisco Jeronimo, European mobile devices research manager, IDC. “Android surged from 4% to 31% market share in less than a year to become the market leader in 4Q10 and the fastest growing operating system ever. IDC estimates at that Android will grow at a 37% compound annual growth rate between 2010 and 2015 in Western Europe, overtaking the overall market growth in the period and that of its direct competitor, the iOS from Apple.

“The recent alliance announced between Nokia and Microsoft will create opportunities for other operating systems to exploit the transition period between Symbian and Windows Phone 7. Android and iOS will fiercely compete to attract all current Symbian users as they will need to migrate to another platform in the future.”

Nokia shipments dropped 11% year-on-year to 19.6 million units, and its market share slipped to 33% in 4Q10 from 39% in 4Q09. This decline was in part due to the 22% fall in feature phones and the underperformance of the company’s smartphones, despite the good sales from the new N8, its flagship during the quarter.

Samsung’s good smartphone performance was not enough to reverse the decline in feature phones and total shipments fell 2% from the previous year, but rose 13% sequentially. The Galaxy S was a top seller in most countries and a direct competitor to the iPhone4.

Apple kept its market share despite the 66% year-on-year growth in shipments. The iPhone4 continued to be a top seller for most operators in Europe, with strong support in terms of advertising and marketing campaigns.

Sony Ericsson shipments fell 15% year-on-year, despite the 3,121% growth in its Android smartphones. The phone maker shipped 2.2 million smartphones and 2 million feature phones. The X10 and X10 mini were top selling devices in most countries and operators.

RIM’s shipments increased 67% year-on-year to 3.8 million units from 2.3 million units a year ago. This growth was the result of a successful portfolio with prepaid offers and strong campaigns across major operators in Europe.The BlackBerry maker experienced growth over 200% in several countries in Western Europe and was the smartphone market leader in the U.K. in 4Q10.

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