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Nokia Tumbles in Smartphone Ranking

We know it's been coming for some time, but there is always something sad about seeing once-mighty companies slip down the popularity list.

That happened recently with {complink 3847|Nokia Corp.}. Gartner Inc. reported this month that Nokia slipped from No. 3 in smartphone sales in the second quarter to No. 7 in the third.

Interestingly, {complink 4644|Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM)} — another phone maker that has had its share of troubles in the last several quarters — replaced Nokia at No. 3, with HTC not far behind. But these rankings may be short lived. “Both HTC and RIM have seen their sales declining in past few quarters, and the challenges might prevent them from holding on to their current rankings in coming quarters,” Anshul Gupta, a principal research analyst at Gartner, said in a press release.

Worldwide sales of mobile phones to end users dropped 3.1 percent from a year earlier, to nearly 428 million units in the third quarter, according to Gartner. Smartphone sales rose 46.9 percent and accounted for 39.6 percent of total mobile phone sales.

Obviously, the fight for first and second place is clearly delineated by {complink 379|Apple Inc.} and {complink 4751|Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.}. “Both vendors together controlled 46.5 percent of [the] smartphone market leaving a handful of vendors fighting over a distant third spot,” Gupta said.

According to Gartner, Samsung's mobile phones sales climbed 18.6 percent from a year earlir to almost 98 million units, with its Galaxy phones winning the global battle for marketshare. Apple sold 55 million smartphones in the third quarter, taking a 32.5 percent global share.

Nokia's mobile phone sales fell 21.9 percent from the second quarter, but overall sales of 82.3 million were better than Gartner's early estimate and were driven largely by increased sales of the Asha full-touch line, Gartner said.

As we all know, these rankings are a bit of a juggling game from quarter to quarter. The most innovative company will dominate the market, at least until another cool thing comes out.

Along those lines, Samsung is hoping to keep its competitive edge by looking at different form factors. Its latest concept appears to be the mass production of flexible mobile-device screens, according to a recent Wall Street Journal story (subscription required). The company's Samsung Display Co. is “in the last phase of development of so-called flexible displays for mobile devices, which are expected to be released in the first half of next year,” according to the WSJ, which cited an unnamed source. The idea is that these plastic displays will help make mobile devices unbreakable, lighter, and bendable.

It's not clear when the displays will be available for commercial use, the WSJ said, and it's not clear to me if that will be enough of an innovation for Samsung to hold its lead. If nothing else, it will be fun to watch what other ideas come out as the smartphone market evolves and players rise and fall on the popularity scales.

50 comments on “Nokia Tumbles in Smartphone Ranking

  1. Wale Bakare
    November 19, 2012

    Thanks Jennifer for this article. My question —- what do you or analysts across Europe think could be best strategy in revamping this predicament?  

  2. Nemos
    November 19, 2012

    “and it's not clear to me if that will be enough of an innovation for Samsung to hold its lead.”  At least, it is something , It passed a long time seen we saw an innovating technology to take place. Both companies lost so much time in the courts. 

  3. Cryptoman
    November 19, 2012

    İt is very sad to see Nokia go down like that. So many talented people have lost their jobs during this decline as well which is tragic. İ guess in order for one manufacturer to flourish, it takes at least one to lose. Sustaining success in the handset business requires constant research and development and a good “read” of the market trends and the user preferences. İf you purely rely on the size of your brand and expect the buyers to like your products by default, you will lose eventually. You have to lift your head and look around you to see what others are doing no matter how confident you are with your technology.

  4. _hm
    November 19, 2012

    Innovation and imagination.

  5. Jennifer Baljko
    November 19, 2012

    Wale Bakare – I'm not sure what the revamp strategy would be… Nokia recently tried to launch its latest Lumia phones. But maybe what Nokia should consider is how to leverage the strength it has in the feature phone market (which still has a huge following in many parts of the world).

     

  6. Jennifer Baljko
    November 19, 2012

    Nemos – True, true….

     

  7. Daniel
    November 19, 2012

    Jennifer, would you think W8 based Smart Phones will give any breathing Oxygen to Nokia. I think as of now only Nokia has the plan to come up largely with Windows based phones. Samsung and LG also have plans, but their major products are with Android OS.

  8. Daniel
    November 19, 2012

    Cryptomans, you are right. Instead of sailing with the market or with latest trends, they kept themselves isolated with technology. They had a good OS Symbian, which sacked for embracing Windows OS. They captured all the markets with Symbian based mobiles and instead of doing further developments, they simply dropped it.

  9. prabhakar_deosthali
    November 20, 2012

    In my opinion what Nokia should do is keep its stronghold on feature phones intact while trying to gain a sizable market share in smart phones by a consistent product offering without being panicky.

    In short Nokia should protect their eggs in the basket while trying to lay new eggs ( A new Idiom!)

  10. Jennifer Baljko
    November 20, 2012

    Cryptoman:You're right. it's not just keeping up with innovation; it's keeping up with buyer preferences… which today change every few quarters its seems.

  11. Shelly
    November 20, 2012

    I agree with you. Taking Apple as an  example, the newly-launched iPhone 5 and iPad mini seem show no revolutionary innovations, which have an impact on the consumers' expectation for Apple new products. It seems  Apple capitalization decline also suffers the impact from the lack of innovation.

  12. Cryptoman
    November 20, 2012

    Apple's challenge now is to be able to keep on innovating as much as it has been when Steve Jobs was alive. I believe Steve was the driving force behind Apple's huge success. He was the man who helped Apple rise up from its ashes when he came on board. Now that he is gone, I think Apple is starting to feel the impact. A colleague of mine mentined that Apple was issuing more software patches for the iPad than before, which are clear signs that things are starting to shake. I would not be surprised if we start hearing quarterly losses from Aplle as of the middle of 2013. Only time will tell…

  13. Susan Fourtané
    November 20, 2012

    Shelly, 

    What kind of innovation were you expecting in the iPhone 5, and iPad mini? 

    There is a time for revolutionary innovation, and there is a time for improving those innovations. 

    -Susan 

  14. Barbara Jorgensen
    November 20, 2012

    I haven't read much on how innovative the Nokia phones are…did they make any headway relative to older models? I think Apple and Samsung are at the “change for change's sake” point, at least with the iPhone 5. From what I can tell, the improvements are incremental while the data plan is going to cost major bucks. I've been test-driving phones, and I actually like the Samsung offerings better. An unbreakable screen has a lot of upside, but I expect they will be very expensive at least initially.

  15. Wale Bakare
    November 20, 2012

    >>There is a time for revolutionary innovation, and there is a time for improving those innovations< <

    @Susan, i'm not sure how add-ons could be done unless you re-strategise. Even Apple started with PC products now its iPhone and iPad ( mini computer) brands presently are most valued in world markets. Also be mindful that, everything in life has its time of season, well may be it's Apple moments. Who knows? Nevertheless, for OEMs unless they have innovative breakthroughs and a bit of luck as well as to continously be on the front foot of diversification within that business.  Even IBM seems to be doing OK in mobile access sector now.

  16. t.alex
    November 20, 2012

    The Lumia phone is pretty impressive with Windows OS running. The thing is will Nokia has any share of all the app sales or not ?

  17. Susan Fourtané
    November 20, 2012

    t.alex, 

    Nokia and Microsoft are partners in the new apps the W8 phones will be running. To answer to your question, yes, Nokia has 50% of the shares there. 

    -Susan 

  18. Susan Fourtané
    November 20, 2012

    Hi, Wale 

    What I meant to say to Shelly is that now every time Apple launches an iPhone X, or iPad X it has to be 100% innovation, unless it's a totally different product. I believe the iPhone 5 has had good adds this time, the size is something people are loving, for example. 

    -Susan 

  19. Wale Bakare
    November 20, 2012

    I still hope Nokia could turn it around in OEM sector and also partnering with Microsoft could help re-boost and catalyse its market experience.

  20. Susan Fourtané
    November 20, 2012

    Wale,

    That's a nice thought. I am meeting some people involved in the new Nokia-Microsoft apps for W8 phones tomorrow. Maybe I get some good news. 

    -Susan

  21. t.alex
    November 20, 2012

    Nice Susan, I think it will take just a bit of time before all the apps are there for windows phone. I know quite a couple of users are considering buying windows phone thanks to the slick user interface.

  22. itguyphil
    November 20, 2012

    I am hearing good things about the new Nokia 920. Battery life is good, lightweight, and the WP8 integration is really looking good. It has also been selling well in NY. I guess we will see next quarter just how well it did.

  23. bolaji ojo
    November 21, 2012

    Susan, Nowadays people don't know really what they expect from Apple. They just expect something different than what every other company is doing. That's a tall order and Apple's inability to deliver on what its customers think it should give them, which they really are unable to define themselves, is reflected in the stock price fall.

  24. Jennifer Baljko
    November 21, 2012

    t.alex, barbara – yes, the Lumia 920 – running on the new Windows Phone 8 OS, shows promise, but right what the apps? These guys did a review of the phone and weigh the pos and cons: http://blog.chron.com/techblog/2012/11/the-smartphone-decision-what-about-the-nokia-lumia-920-review/

  25. Jennifer Baljko
    November 21, 2012

    Susan – Looking forward to hearing what the Nokia-Windows folks say. As impressive as the Lumia 920 sounds, they'll have to take a pretty mighty leap to catch up with Samsung's and Apple's popularity.

  26. t.alex
    November 22, 2012

    I know a couple of guys working hard on Windows apps too. Quite promising, even though some of their complaints is that certain features of the Windows apps store is not quite as mature as Apple or google.

  27. elctrnx_lyf
    November 23, 2012

    I suppose Nokia have to fight its a way out. They are actually not quitting the fight. The models launched recently are really good ones with differentiating features and nokias rugged trademark hardware.

  28. Susan Fourtané
    November 23, 2012

    t.alex 

    Some of the apps are almost ready to be published. I have already seen and tried some of them. 

    -Susan 

  29. Susan Fourtané
    November 23, 2012

    pocharle, 

    Yes, I have to say that the Lumia 920 feels and looks really good. It's super fast, and I got a very good impression of it. The design and hardware is beautiful. 🙂 

    -Susan 

  30. syedzunair
    November 23, 2012

    @Susan: 

    I would agree with you. The Lumia 920 is a good smartphone. Any insights about the OS? I haven't given it a shot myself but I would love to try it in the future. 

  31. Susan Fourtané
    November 23, 2012

    Bolaji, 

    It's really hard for anyone to deliver something that people are not able to define themselves. Whenever I have asked people what they expected from Apple from this latest product announcement no one has been able to define a product or a feature clearly, and with determination. Every response -if any- has been vague, under the umbrella of the great world “innovation”. 

    You have summarized very well what I think about this issue.

    -Susan  

  32. Susan Fourtané
    November 23, 2012

    Yes, Jennifer. 🙂 I'm writing something about it. One thing I can tell, the weeks before the end of the year are going to be interesting. 

    -Susan

  33. Ashu001
    November 23, 2012

    Susan,

    Could'nt agree more!!! I highly recommend you view this super-funny video from Jimmy Kimmel. 

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=rdIWKytq_q4

     

    People can't even tell the Difference between Iphone 4S and Iphone 5[When both phones are the same 4S model] forget about the scope for Innovation!!!

    Regards

    Ashish.

  34. Ashu001
    November 23, 2012

    Susan,

    I have used the Lumia 920;its a good phone. However it is neither a Game-Changer with the WOW!!! Factor that the Samsung SIII brought to the market-place or has the marketing muscle (& Pschyological Power) of the Iphone behind it.

    That's the whole tragedy of Nokia's Smartphones today-So,What's the solution?

    Egdy creative designs and UI friendly formats in my opinion.Something which brings the Cool factor back into Nokia Smartphones.Else its gonna be too late for them there.

    Regards

    Ashish.

  35. Ashu001
    November 23, 2012

    Susan,

    Two things dominate 3rd party developers decisions on whether or not to develop on a New OS[And Windows Mobile will be a new OS for them].

    One is Reach/size of the potential market-On this measure Windows falls below iOS,Android and RIM today.

    The Second is how expensive Developer software and support for Developers is-Here Windows scores above iOS and RIM but there is still more to be done here.

    Till these things happen it will take a longtime for Windows Apps to catch up with the Android and iOS stores today.

    Regards

    Ashish.

     

  36. t.alex
    November 23, 2012

    Yes a number of apps are ready on App Store. In fact the tiles concept in windows phone is pretty good idea. A number of apps for iphone do try to imitate this feature.

  37. Susan Fourtané
    November 24, 2012

    t.alex 

    “Yes a number of apps are ready on App Store.”

    No, that's not possible. The new apps I am talking about have not been published yet. 

    -Susan 

  38. Susan Fourtané
    November 24, 2012

    Ashish! 😀 Gosh! and this was before the real iPhone 5. Super funny. The one who stoke me was the one saying he had an iPhone 4S, but this one was lot better. 😀 Some people don't know what they want, and just repeat what they hear from others, or read somewhere, like parrots.

    -Susan  

  39. Susan Fourtané
    November 24, 2012

    Ashish, 

    Maybe the solution is to stop the endless comparison with all the other smartphones. 

    -Susan 

  40. Susan Fourtané
    November 24, 2012

    Ashish, 

    Before this week I would have agreed with you. Today, I don't. I saw the demos of some of the apps about to come out. They are great. Some of the best developers have been chosen for this. You will have to wait and see. 🙂 

    -Susan 

  41. Ashu001
    November 24, 2012

    Susan,

    That's the big difference is'nt it?

    In Android and IOS-Developers are clamouring to get in and develop apps for those platforms;with Windows you have to incentivize the Developer.

    That says everything.

    Ashish.

  42. Ashu001
    November 24, 2012

    Susan,

    You said it so yourself in a previous post-Most people are like Parrots(or should I say lemmings);who are ready to get herded off a cliff!!!

    In such a sceanario the Public(which makes the Ultimate Buying Decisions)will always compare what others Feel or think about a particular smartphone.

    Its inevitable and human nature.

    Regards

    Ashish.

  43. Susan Fourtané
    November 24, 2012

    Well, many Android apps are pretty bad, and pointless.

    -Susan

  44. Susan Fourtané
    November 24, 2012

    Ashish, 

    Lemmings march toward the sea at certain time of the year despite the fact that they can't swim. 🙁 No one knows exactly why. However, some thories have been published about the lemming behaviour. This behaviour is not understood by humans, but in the lemming cyrcle of life there is a point to it. 

    Now, the parrot behaviour. Parrots repeat whatever they happen to hear, without any reason, or understanding of what they are saying. This behaviour is compared to the one I attribute to those humans who don't seem to give a second of their time to thinking, analyzing, and coming up with their own conclusions about something –like the specific thing we are discussing–.  

    As for people always comparing and looking at what others do, well, you don't want to hear what I think of that. 😀 But if you know me a little by now, you can imagine.

    -Susan 

  45. Ashu001
    November 24, 2012

    Susan,

    To your last statement here  I agree and concur entirely!!!

  46. itguyphil
    November 24, 2012

    I have a 60+ yo friend of a friend who got it & plays with it like a teenager would. Impressive since he didn't need any “training” at all.

  47. Susan Fourtané
    November 25, 2012

    pocharle, 

    Why could he possibly have needed any training? 

    -Susan 

  48. Mr. Roques
    November 25, 2012

    I believe you skipped the real news from this article. RIM jumped to #3? We should look further into this… since every single article on the web says they are not going in the right direction.

  49. itguyphil
    November 28, 2012

    My own personal experiences. I guess having dealt with my parents and parent's friends who ALWAYS have questions about any new device (without even trying it out), I assumed he would be the same. Until we started getting voice texts (new feature of WP8). 

    I was surprised!

  50. itguyphil
    November 28, 2012

    I'll believe it when I see it. If that's the case, MSFT must have bought them out under the table.

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