Most open-minded smartphone users will give it a few quarters before deciding on their own choice of next device, as Microsoft and RIM feed back in to the competition and Lenovo looks to expand. However, the analyst firms are churning out their reports for the here and now as the usual suspects dominate.
A Change is Coming
There is no surprise that smartphone sales are up, approaching 40% of all mobile sales. And its no shock that the open, free to use, Android OS continues to dominate the landscape. But, all eyes will be on future numbers, as this quarter's figures from analyst firms offered little surprise.
Apple's iPhone 5 launched very late (later than the iPhone 4S did) so Apple's sales aren't as high as they could be, meaning Q4 should be another blockbuster for the Cupertino company, while Samsung's vibrant range continues to push ahead among the big Android players. As an aside, Samsung says it has no plans to settle with Apple, as HTC has just done.
With iOS and Android dominating the OS race, that leaves lots of room for a third party to march into the bronze medal position. Will RIM or Microsoft mount a comeback and create a credible third tier? Does it really matter, as users of most devices (assuming they've been able to upgrade) now have a broadly similar quality of experience and content (excluding app stores).
Among the Details
Android makers collectively sold 122 million units (phones only, not tablets) while Apple managed 23.5 million units and RIM managed almost 9 million sales, based on Gartner numbers. RIM will hope that BlackBerry 10's launch early next year will bring those numbers racing up.
Nokia is going great guns on regular mobile sales globally with its Asha range, but has dropped further down the smartphone rankings as those going for Windows Phones waited for the 8-series rather than pick up an instantly defunct WP7 device.
When you throw in tablets, Apple will be a lot happier, having been selling a million iPads a day thanks to the iPad mini launch. Meanwhile, IDC recently noted that Lenovo is looking more to smartphones and tablets to shore up its dominant position in the PC business. Lenovo could lead the march of Chinese firms into the arena with Huwaei and ZTC looking to do more business globally.
So, check back next quarter when we'll see if Microsoft has really made an impact with WP8, and the quarter after RIM will be back in the game, which make these stats a whole lot more interesting.