Nokia was the overall worldwide mobile device market leader in Q1, but the gap between it and the other top companies, like palmOne and HP, is much smaller outside EMEA than inside. Nokia’s share of the mobile device market in EMEA in Q1 was 48%, but globally it is only 28% according to the Canalys estimates. In EMEA, Nokia dominates the smart phone segment with a 73% share, while palmOne only has around 1%, behind Motorola and several non-US firms including Sony Ericsson, Siemens and Orange. In North America, the situation is quite different: palmOne is the leading smart phone vendor with 37% share, ahead of Nokia (25%), Motorola (16%) and Samsung (15%). Nokia’s share in APAC, a region that accounts for a third of the global market for smart phones, is similar, but it is behind fellow Symbian-based vendor Fujitsu, with Motorola again in hot pursuit.
“These regional differences can have quite profound effects on future global market progression,” Jones added. “It is very easy for companies in a strong position in one territory to assume they can carry that success into others, but a product design and brand that is accepted in, for example, the US, may not do so well in Europe or Asia, and vice versa. In the smart phone and wireless handheld segments the vendor’s operator relationships are also critical.”
Indeed, it is only since RIM expanded its operator relationships across Europe and introduced features that mobile professionals in that region have come to expect, such as colour screens, that it was able to break into the top rank of mobile device vendors there. RIM was number four worldwide in Q1 2004 according to Canalys, with North America accounting for just under 80% of shipments compared to over 90% a year earlier.
GPS navigation has given a big boost to the handheld market in EMEA, with total shipments for all vendors in Q1 2004 up 20% on the same period one year ago. Meanwhile, in North America and APAC, handheld shipments fell year-on-year by 26% and 11% respectively. HP benefited from being included in large numbers of navigation solution bundles in EMEA and has remained ahead of palmOne there for three consecutive quarters. On a worldwide level, however, palmOne continues to enjoy a considerable lead over HP, largely due to its stronger US retail performance: PalmOne still ships two handhelds to every one of HP’s in North America, though the ratio has fallen considerably over the past year.
“When you have a situation, as we do today, where a product category is growing healthily in one region, but shrinking just as fast in another, one region can sometimes be undermined by a decision taken centrally and applied globally,” commented Canalys analyst Rachel Lashford. “It is important that vendors take into account the local emerging trends and performance of their various regional operations, and give them sufficient decision-making power to make the most of the local market conditions.”
The difference in product trends is highlighted further by the shifting category mix Canalys has observed in the different regions. In Q1 2004, smart phones represented 63% of mobile device shipments in EMEA, up from 35% a year earlier, with handhelds falling from 40% to 29% (though still growing in absolute terms). In the Asia/Pacific region, the smart phone proportion rose from 30% to 69% over the course of a year, with handhelds falling from 53% to 27%. In North America, however, handhelds still account for the majority of mobile device shipments, but have fallen from a very high 83% to 59%, while smart phones have increased from 10% to 23%. As the number and range of smart phones available on the market increases, handhelds will come under even more pressure.
Among the top 10 worldwide vendors, Sony has probably suffered the most from the decline in the North American handheld market, which accounts for the vast majority of its CLIÉ business, with shipments almost halving year-on-year. “Being very consumer focused, Sony’s handheld business hasn’t really benefited much from the general upturn in business mobility spending, while at the same time what were once distinguishing features, such as integrated cameras and MP3 playback, have appeared on more devices, including mobile phones, from other vendors,” Lashford added.
“The operating system picture is quite different too from region to region,” said Jones. “Application and content developers have to stay on top of how and where these are changing. In EMEA, 60% of the mobile devices that shipped in Q1 were running the Symbian OS, but in North America this was just 6%, with PalmSource leading on 47%, followed by Microsoft on 28%. Meanwhile Linux already represents over 14% of mobile device shipments in APAC and continues to increase, despite making little impression anywhere else so far.”