Apple to remain "influential" despite smartphone competition
Apple is expected to remain an "influential" presence in the smartphone market despite increased competition from Android and Windows Phone 7 devices.
"In recent years, no company has flourished in this [bullish mobile] environment as much as Apple," explained IMS researcher Josh Builta.
"[For example], Apple's 2Q 2011 results [confirmed] record sales of more than 20 million iPhones."
Builta also noted that Cupertino was "not alone" in its success, as rival Samsung has demonstrated the best results in years, while smaller vendors such as HTC have seen their position rise dramatically.
"Capitalizing on its diverse portfolio - which includes devices using the company's own bada operating system along with Android and Windows Mobile - as well as its highly popular Galaxy series, Samsung smartphone market share increased from about three percent in 1Q 2010 to over 13 percent in 1Q 2011," he said.
According to Builta, the above-mentioned companies are well positioned to benefit from the rapidly expanding smartphone market.
"Though the other OEMs are stepping up their efforts in the space, companies such as Apple, HTC and Samsung have a considerable amount of momentum. Catching them will not be an easy task."
To be sure, sales of smartphones are projected to exceed 420 million devices in 2011 - accounting for nearly 28 percent of the entire global handset market.
With the introduction of more affordable "entry-level" smartphones, IMS estimates annual sales will surpass one billion devices by the end of 2016, accounting for one of every two mobile handsets sold.
"But despite the higher margins for smartphones, and the seemingly insatiable consumer appetite for converged devices, it is clear not all OEMs are equally positioned to capitalize on this market trend," Builta cautioned.
"For instance, LG, despite being the third largest OEM in the world, has offered a fairly limited smartphone portfolio in recent years. [Meanwhile], Nokia saw its portion of smartphone market decline so dramatically that in early 2011 the company dropped the Symbian platform in favor of Microsoft's Windows Phone OS."