Apple Doubles Handset Sales in Q1, Leapfrogs ZTE for Fourth Place

By Beecher Tuttle April 29, 2011

Global mobile phone shipments increased by 20 percent in the first quarter of 2011, powered mostly by strong smartphone sales from market challengers like Apple, research firm IDC reported on Thursday.

The number of units shipped increased from 310.5 million in the first quarter of 2010 to 371.8 units in the current year's Q1. Feature phones accounted for the majority of units sold but continued to lose market share to smartphones, which have become more affordable and available to a wider range of consumers.

"Increasingly smartphones will drive market growth," Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker, noted in a statement. "This means feature phone makers will either need to become smartphone dependent or consolidate that part of the market."

Computer giant Apple had a particularly impressive quarter, shipping a record 18.6 million handsets worldwide, according to Strategy Analytics, which published similar numbers to IDC. The iPhone maker more than doubled its smartphone sales to capture fourth place in the global handset battle behind Nokia, Samsung and LG, which all saw either meager gains or losses in the first quarter. Apple leapfrogged rival ZTE even though the Chinese manufacturer almost doubled its mobile phone sales compared to last year.

Apple now garners 5.3 percent of the overall global market, which is particularly impressive considering the company only sells variations of a singular handset. Nokia still leads the pack with 31 percent of the market, dropping from 36.1 percent last year. The Finnish manufacturer struggled with 3G smartphone sales and had trouble taking advantage of the thriving U.S. market, according to the Strategy Analytics report.

Apple's strong Q1 performance – combined with Verizon's recent success selling the iPhone – could enable the California tech company to eventually overtake LG, which saw its market share fall from 9.1 percent to 7 percent over the last year.

Beecher Tuttle is a TechZone360 contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

TechZone360 Contributor

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