Mobile phone market growth sustained by smartphones

The Western European mobile phone market grew 1.5% year on year to 43.3 million units in 2Q10, according to International Data Corporation’s (IDC) Mobile Phone Tracker.

The healthy smartphone growth offset the fall in traditional devices. Smartphone shipments increased to 14.6 million units, 60% up on last year’s second quarter, to represent 34% of total shipments, compared with 28% in 1Q10. Traditional mobile phones declined 14% year on year to 28.7 million units, from 33.5 million a year before.

“This quarter’s growth was driven by smartphones, particularly Android devices,” said Francisco Jeronimo, European mobile devices research manager, IDC. “The 15% market share achieved by Android in the quarter is a very important milestone for the less than two year old Google operating system and shows that the OS is ramping up to become the second biggest operating system as soon as early 2011. HTC, Samsung, and Sony Ericsson devices proved to be very successful and consumers already recognize they can get a similar experience from Android as they would from the iPhone and for a lower price.”

During the quarter manufacturers and carriers reported strong sales of smartphones. 43.3 million units were shipped into the region, which represented 60% growth from last year’s second quarter. From an OS perspective, Android led the growth in most Western European countries. Shipments increased 450% year on year and market share jumped from 4% in 2Q09 to 15% in 2Q10, becoming the fourth biggest operating system among smartphones, with a very small gap to BlackBerry OS and the iOS.

IDC believes Android will become the second biggest smartphone OS in Western Europe by as early as 1Q11. The popularity of devices from HTC, Sony Ericsson, and Samsung contributed to strong awareness of Google’s OS.

The traditional phone segment declined 14% year on year and 7% sequentially to 28.7 million units. This segment has been supported by the popularity of feature phones, despite the impact of smartphones. But the price gap between high end feature phones and smartphones is decreasing, and consumers are increasingly considering smartphones for their next upgrade rather than a feature phone. LG was the most affected by this trend, with its traditional phone segment declining 63% year on year due to the lack of a strong product replacement of its successful LG Cookie.

Strong smartphone sales helped Sony Ericsson regain third position from LG, despite the 24% year on year decline in total shipments. While its smartphone shipments increased 700% year on year, traditional phones dived 40% from last year’s second quarter. Sony Ericsson does not have a portfolio of touchscreen feature phones and the low end tier continues to be dominated by Nokia, Samsung, and LG. While Sony Ericsson succeeded with the Android smartphones X10 and X10 mini, LG suffered from a lack of smartphones in the portfolio and low sales of traditional phones.