According to the latest data from Canalys, Apple was the third-largest manufacturer in the global “converged smart mobile device” market, which encompasses smart phones and wireless handhelds, in the fourth quarter of 2007. The research and analysis group estimates that Apple took a 6.5% share of the global market, trailing only Nokia, which had a 52.9% share, and Research In Motion, which accounted for 11.4% of the market. “When you consider that it launched part way through the year, with limited operator and country coverage, and essentially just one product, Apple has shown very clearly that it can make a difference and has sent a wakeup call to the market leaders,” said Pete Cunningham, Canalys senior analyst.
“What it must demonstrate now is that it can build a sustainable business in the converged device space, expanding its coverage and product portfolio. It will also need to ensure that the exclusive relationships that got it so far so quickly do not prove to be a limit on what it can achieve.”
In the US, Canalys estimates that Apple took a 28% share of the converged device market in Q4 2007, behind only RIM’s 41%, and greater than all Windows Mobile device vendors’ shares combined. However, Cunningham believes Apple will need to expand its product line and continue innovating if it wishes to hold, or improve upon, its current position.
“Apple’s innovation in its mobile phone user interface has prompted a lot of design activity among competitors. We saw the beginnings of that in 2007, but we will see a lot more in 2008 as other smart phone vendors try to catch up and then get back in front,” Cunningham said. “Experience shows that a vendor with only one smart phone design, no matter how good that design is, will soon struggle.