Apple, Business, Companies, Hardware

First 2012 Estimates: Winners and Losers in Smartphone Wars


The full year 2012 race for smartphones is all but over, and the Top 3 are settled for both handsets and operating systems. We have RIM’s results for fourth quarter 2012 (6.9 million units ), 7% down from third quarter. This gives BlackBerry about 3% market share both in hardware and the operating system race. It also gives us the numbers we need to be able to verify the Top 3 for the full calendar 2012.

The exact number & market share are naturally waiting for Q4’12 results data out in late January, but the relative rankings are settled. The year was won by Samsung Mobile and Google Android. Here is the definite Top 3 for both charts and the number range to expect for total sales for the year and market share as the best guesstimate:


  1. Samsung . . . . 220M – 235M units about 32% market share
  2. Apple . . . . . . . 140M – 150M units about 20% market share
  3. Huawei . . . . . . . 55M – 60M units about 8% market share


  • Race for 4th is between Sony, ZTE, Nokia and RIM (about 5% each)
  • Others in Top 10 for the year are HTC, LG and Lenovo (about 4% each)
  • Motorola has fallen out of the top 10 in global smartphone makers for the full year

Source: TomiAhonen Consulting Estimates December 2012 – This data may be freely shared

In the OS Wars segment, most of the Top 6 are settled with only the race for fourth place still open, between Samsung’s Bada and Nokia’s Symbian:


  1. Google Android . . . . .  465M – 485M about 66% market share
  2. Apple iOS . . . . . . . . . 140M – 150M about 20% market share
  3. BlackBerry OS . . . . . . 33M and about 5% market share


  • 4th will be race between Samsung’s Bada and Nokia’s Symbian (about 3%)
  • Windows Phone is definitely going to be ranked 6th operating system by sales in 2012 (about 2%)

Source: TomiAhonen Consulting Estimates December 2012 – This data may be freely shared

I cannot fail to observe the irony of it being now nearly two years from the Elop Effect and when Stephen Elop of Nokia exchanged the world’s most used smartphone OS, Symbian, to a tiny start-up with 2% market share, Windows Phone. Now, almost two years later, Symbian has tumbled losing 9 out of every 10 customers it had, and even for this year, Symbian still outsold all of Windows Phone, even after those highly-hyped Lumia smartphones released by Nokia all through this year. What does the highly-promised ‘third ecosystem’ Windows Phone does today, after all those Nokia sacrifices? It will end the year with about 2% market share. Yes, with full Nokia’s sales power behind it, obliterating 29% of Nokia’s Symbian market share, Elop has not moved the Windows Phone market share needle even by one percent. Windows Phone ended the 2010 with 2% market share, before this partnership was announced and now we know for a fact, Windows Phone will end with 2% for this full year market share after Nokia is fully onboard. Isn’t it pathetic? Bear in mind that today we have not one version of Windows Phone, but Windows Mobile 6.x, Windows Phone 7 and Windows Phone 8 combined.

Thus, if you are still drinking that Windows Kool-Aid by Steve Ballmer, maybe it is worth asking HTC why the company is reducing the availability of its low-cost Windows Phone 8 handset (8S) – including ending its US sales – while the world market is shifting to lower-cost smartphones? Why is HTC not releasing its promised large-screen Windows Phone 8 based smartphone? If Windows Phone was the success Ballmer (and Elop) are hyping up, then HTC should be happily onboard. Look at the reality of the market, not the hype from the delusional CEOs… in the past we have warned you that Microsoft has poisoned all carrier relationships after it bought Skype. Since then the Windows partnership has lost Sony Mobile, LG Electronics, Dell, Motorola – and now Samsung Mobile. The company announced that its 2013 focus will be on Android, Bada and Tizen. HTC is diminishing its involvement and Nokia is the dead man walking, about to drop out of the Top 10 biggest smartphone makers. Is this a ‘healthy’ third ecosystem or is this the last gasps of a smartphone platform that should be allowed to die in peace? Just for full year 2010, Windows smartphones on both Windows Mobile and Windows Phone had 5% market share and many of its partners were struggling even then…

For the installed base, we know the full Top 6. That race is so clear, the rankings are settled completely:


  1. Android . . . . . . . about 710 million smartphones in use and 53% of global installed base
  2. iOS . . . . . . . . . . about 260 million smartphones in use and 19% of global installed base
  3. Symbian . . . . . . about 190 million smartphones in use and 14% of global installed base
  4. Blackberry . . . . . 104 million smartphones in use and 8% of global installed base
  5. Bada . . . . . . . . . about 30 million smartphones in use and above 2% of global installed base
  6. Windows Phone . about 20 million smartphones in use and under 2% of global installed base


  • Total smartphones in use at end of 2012 about 1.3 Billion across all platforms globally
  • RIM/Blackberry data final, other 5 (Android, iOS, Symbian, bada, Windows Phone) subject to final Q4 data

Source: TomiAhonen Consulting Estimates December 2012 – This data may be freely shared

Fourth quarter numbers for RIM and HTC suggest that HTC has fallen to about 8th and RIM to about 9th, both with about 3% market share. Last quarter we saw Motorola fall out of the Top 10 and this Q4 we may see Nokia follow, as it is chased by Chinese Coolpad (Yulong). I will keep us posted as the numbers come in. For those playing at home, I am modeling about 248 million smartphones sold in fourth quarter and 720M for the full calendar year. Be aware that some are suggesting the full year 2012 smartphone sales were 780M (addressing maybe unrealistically big Christmas season), but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We’ll know in late January and early February for sure.

For all who need more info about the handset market, remember my TomiAhonen Phone Book 2012 with all the stats and facts you could ever hope for in one eBook.