HTC, Samsung sell nearly 20 million mobile phones in the first quarter

Android has reshaped the power players in the smartphone market: Will WP7 benefit?

HTC and Samsung are making a killing selling mobile phones, mostly thanks to Android. Nokia, sadly, is lagging, but not out of the picture. But because of the sheer volume of phones these three sell, the future could be good for Windows Phone 7 as HTC, Samsung and, soon, Nokia, offer WP7 handsets.

The iPhone isn’t struggling. It looks as if market share gains by these players came mostly at the expense of RIM’s BlackBerry devices.

HTC Arrive
HTC (whose Arrive model is pictured) saw global sales of its smartphones jump by 229.6 percent in the first quarter of 2011 to 8.9 million units, from just 2.7 million in the year ago quarter, giving it a market share of 8.9 percent versus 4.9 percent a year ago, according to figures released this afternoon by IDC. Samsung saw unit sales jump 350 percent to 10.8 million units from 2.4 million in the year ago quarter for a market share of 10.8 percent, up from 4.3 percent in the first quarter of 2010.

Nokia had the weakest performance among the top five handset makers, growing only 12.6 percent to 24.2 million units from 21.5 million a year earlier. It’s market share fell dramatically, however, to 24.3 percent in the first quarter from 38.8 percent a year earlier. This provides all the more reason for Nokia to abandon its Symbian operating system for Windows Phone 7, although Nokias running WP7 won’t be available until October at the earliest. Earlier this week, Nokia chairman Jorma Ollila announced he’ll leave the company next year.

While some readers of this blog are quick to pair the words “Windows Phone 7” with “FAIL," I think the long-term prospects for the OS are good. Despite the nagging, maybe even exasperating, problems installing the NoDo update, I have often said that I find WP7 a competitive OS with Android and Apple iOS. It’s user interface is easy to navigate and it’s developer community is growing at a healthy pace.

And I believe that Microsoft will enjoy a strong Nokia bump once those devices come to market. IDC seems to agree with me. It put out a forecast March 29 that Windows Phone 7 and Windows Mobile (though mostly WP7) will reach a combined market share of 20.9 percent by 2015, putting WP7 second in smartphone OS sales behind Android’s 45.4 percent.

Other highlights from the survey: Apple iPhone sales grew 114.4 percent to 18.7 million units, from 8.7 million a year earlier, for a market share of 18.7 percent, from 15.7 percent. Research in Motion reported sales of 13.9 million BlackBerry smartphones in Q1, a 31.1 percent increase from the year ago quarter. Like Nokia, though, BlackBerry’s market share also fell, to 13.9 percent from 19.1 percent a year earlier.

Overall, global smartphone sales jumped 79.7 percent in Q1 to 99.6 million units, from 55.4 million a year ago, as consumers trade in basic cell phones for the more feature-rich smartphones at a rapid pace.

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Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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