Thursday, 24 May 2012

Android market shares

Since Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility finally went ahead this week, I thought this might be a timely moment to share some data that a colleague sent me regarding Android shipments. It throws into sharp relief the way in which a combination of Samsung at the mid and top end, and Chinese manufacturers at the low end, have reduced Motorola, LG and even formerly mighty HTC to also-rans.

Motorola’s market share has fallen from about 11% in the 1st quarter of 2011, to less than 6% in the same quarter this year. HTC is even worse. They were neck and neck with Samsung at the start of the period, selling 22.5% of all Android devices. Now they are only 8.9% of the market and falling fast.

Samsung, on the other hand, now represent 41.7% of Android shipments. This looks like a dominant position, but it should be remembered that one or two failed launches could easily lead to a rapid decline. What they need to do, in my opinion, is push much harder to create a credible ecosystem that spans their mobile, computing and AV products. Their current offering is not an obvious competitor to iTunes, Google Play or Amazon Market, even if it probably offers similar functionality (if not richness of content). Without that ecosystem they have no lock-in for customers and therefore limited ability to retain beyond their brand power and product design nous.

Second on the list of to-dos should be to make sure that ecosystem is seamless between their low-end Bada OS and higher end Android devices. 13.4Mn of the former shipped last year and they probably represent many people’s entry point into smart phones. It’s important to offer them a logical upgrade within the family.

Chinese manufacturers are now just over 17% of the market by volume, up from 10% in Q1 2011.

And just to remind us all that Android is not the only game in town. When asked what the best smartphone in the world was, Apple’s spookily oracle-like assistant Siri replied: Nokia Lumia 900. Best not write the Finns off just yet.

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