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Apple gains ground on Nokia in smartphone race

Apple gains ground on Nokia in smartphone race

Global smartphone makers are slowly but surely eating into dominant player Nokia’s share of the market, and this month it was Apple that led the charge, according to new figures published on Thursday. Nokia shipped 26.5 million smartphones in the quarter to 30 September, the same number as second and third-placed Apple and RIM combined, Strategy Analytics revealed, giving it a 34.4% share of the market. However, that share was down on the 38.1% it reported last quarter and 37.8% a year ago, as rival vendors made their mark. The big winner in Q3 was Apple, which lifted its share of the market to 18.3% from 17% in the year-ago quarter and 13.5% in Q2, thanks to 14.1 million unit shipments.

“Nokia was shipping three times more smartphones than Apple last year, but that ratio has now fallen to two times,” Strategy Analytics noted.

“Apple was the star performer [in Q3], as it overtook RIM and closed the gap on Nokia to the smallest level since first entering the mobile market in 2007.”

RIM saw shipments rise by 46% on-year to 12.4 million units, its highest rate of growth since the first quarter of 2009. However, its market share slipped by two tenths of a percentage point compared to the previous quarter to 16.1%.

“RIM continues to be hampered by a limited presence in the high-growth touchscreen segment and consequently its global smartphone market share has edged down from 19% to 16% during the past 12 months,” the analyst firm warned.

The top three are also feeling the heat from other smartphone vendors, which together shipped 24.1 million devices in Q3, upping their combined share of the market to 31.3% from 25.6% last year.

These companies, which include a number of major Android-based smartphone makers such as Samsung and HTC, helped to drive total global smartphone shipments to 77 million in Q3, up 78% on-year. Smartphones represented 23% of all mobile device shipments during the quarter.

However, as Nokia demonstrated in its third-quarter results presentation, which took place earlier Thursday, all smartphone makers are constrained by component shortages. And Strategy Analytics sees those supply issues continuing in Q4 and into 2011.

“The smartphone industry is still struggling to ramp up the production capacity of key components after major cutbacks during the recession of 2009, while smartphones are now facing extra competition for many of the same components from the emerging tablet segment,” the analyst firm said.

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