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Mobile phone shipments keep growing

The worldwide market for mobile phones continued to expand in the fourth quarter of 2003, spurred to a record high by strong sales in all regions. According to IDC’s Worldwide Mobile Phone QView, worldwide mobile phone shipments grew by 29.7% year-over-year in 4Q03 and increased sequentially by 21.8% to 167.8 million units.

The fourth quarter of 2003 closed out a particularly strong year for the worldwide mobile phone market as handset sales topped half a billion units shipped for the first time in the market’s history. Shipments grew 23.3% from 432.7 million devices shipped worldwide in 2002 to 533.4 million handsets in 2003.

Top 5 Vendors, Worldwide Converged Mobile Device Shipments and Market Share, 2003 (Preliminary)

RankVendor
2003 Shipments
2003 Market Share
1Nokia
5,445,307
56.9%
2Motorola
778,287
8.1%
3Sony Ericsson
815,047
8.5%
4RIM
490,263
5.1%
5Samsung
284,803
3.0%

Other
1,757,473
18.4%

Total
9,571,180
100.0%

“Worldwide mobile phone manufacturers grew their sales by tapping into robust demand in emerging markets in Asia and Eastern Europe. In addition to driving increased sales, first-time buyers’ preference for more expensive midrange and high-end mobile phones helped to drive additional revenue to phone manufacturers,” said David Linsalata, analyst in IDC’s Mobile Devices program. “Additionally, North American and Western European consumers elected to replace their existing handsets with new 2.5G models as the need for 3G remains unproven.”

Contained within the volume of worldwide mobile phone shipments, the market for converged mobile devices, or “smartphones,” showed significant growth and future promise. In the fourth quarter of 2003, the worldwide converged mobile device market grew 182.3% year-over-year and 77.4% sequentially to 3.7 million units. Strong sales during the fourth quarter drove worldwide shipments for 2003 up 181.6% year-over-year to 9.6 million devices.

“As new devices from Research in Motion (RIM) and newly-reformed palmOne reach market, consumers and enterprises alike are experiencing a fresh take on data-centric converged mobile devices,” said Linsalata. “Simultaneously, voice-centric converged mobile devices based on a range of software platforms and available in variety of form factors are seeing significant growth as vendors such as Nokia and Motorola weave imaging and data capabilities with proven telephony experience to form significantly improved devices.”

Nokia slightly outpaced the market with sequential quarterly growth of 22.3% and year-over-year quarterly growth of 19.8%, easily maintaining its position as the top mobile phone manufacturer. Nokia’s growth stemmed from an ongoing push in both established GSM and CDMA markets throughout the world, as well as an accelerating uptake in low penetration markets such as India, Brazil, and Russia. However, as the overall market grew during 2003, Nokia experienced a drop in annual market share from 35.0% in 2002 to 33.6% in 2003, despite an 18.3% year-over-year growth in shipments.

Motorola’s market share fell from 14.9% in 3Q03 to 13.4% in 4Q03 due to modest quarterly shipment increases of 9.6% sequentially and 1.1% year-over-year. This slowdown in shipments was also reflected in the vendor’s year-over-year annual growth of only 1.5%, leading Motorola to a lower yet solid position as the number 2 vendor with a 14.1% market share for 2003. With over 20 new handsets launched in the third quarter, Motorola plans to increase its shipments in 1Q04.

Samsung set a new internal shipment record in 4Q03, producing a sequential quarterly gain of 6.5% and year-over-year growth of 26.1%. Sales were driven mainly by strong demand for high-end handsets with imaging capabilities, pushing Samsung to 22.7% year-over-year growth for 2003. However, like the other leading vendors, the growing market pushed down Samsung’s share from 10.9% in 3Q03 to 9.5% in 4Q03 and from 10.0% in 2002 to 9.9% in 2003.

Siemens’ market share grew from 8.7% in 3Q03 to 9.1% in 4Q03 as the company posted a sequential gain of 27% and a year-over-year gain of 38%. The vendor’s additional shipments resulted in a year-over-year annual change of 24.8% and growth of 0.1% to an 8.5% market share in 2003.

Despite continued growth by close challenger Sony Ericsson, LG Electronics maintained its number 5 spot in IDC’s Top 5 Vendor List with 5.3% of the market in 4Q03, down slightly from 5.5% in 3Q03. LG experienced 17.4% sequential quarterly growth and 81.9% year-over-year quarterly growth. LG’s continued push to increase shipments led to a solid 69.1% year-over-year improvement in annual shipments, placing the company at 5.2% of the market in 2003, up from 3.8% in 2002.

About Fabrizio Pilato

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