September smartphones

Customer looks at smartphone in Bangkok, Thailand

Prepare for a month of mobile marketing overload. The big mobile phone players are launching new handsets in the coming days which will be crucial in deciding who'll be top dog in this lucrative business - or, in some cases, whether they survive as a major player.

On Wednesday in New York, Nokia has a major event where it is expected to unveil its first Windows 8 device. That phone may determine whether the Finnish giant pulls out of its downwards spiral - and also whether Microsoft can ever be more than a niche player in the mobile industry.

Next week in San Francisco, Apple is expected to launch its latest iPhone. As I write, the notoriously secretive company has not even confirmed that an event is taking place - but it has to put a new device out soon or sales will surely slow to a trickle because the current models will look very last year to fickle phone buyers. What will the new phone be called? If Apple's last iPad is a guide, it may just be The New iPhone.

And meanwhile new Android phones from Samsung, HTC and Motorola - now in the hands of Google - will be fighting for their own headlines. So, as the battle hots up, what do the figures show about the current state of the market?

I've looked at various reports from research firms like Gartner and IDC, and one message comes through loud and clear. Android and Apple have grabbed most of the smartphone market and just about every penny of profit.

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So, according to IDC, Android accounted for 68% of smartphone shipments in the second quarter of this year, with Apple's iOS capturing 17%. The Blackberry operating system fell below 5% - less than half of what it achieved last year - while phones running the Windows Phone 7 system had just 3.5% of the market.

Gartner, meanwhile, has figures on manufacturers' market share of smartphones actually sold which show a similar story. Samsung has nearly 30%, Apple 19%, with Nokia on 7.6% - that includes some Symbian phones which won't be around for much longer. The figures also show that the Blackberry maker RIM, with 5.2%, has fallen behind Taiwan's HTC on 6.2%.

It would take a brave pundit to bet against Samsung and Apple still being on top of the pile by Christmas. The question is whether the likes of Nokia, HTC and Motorola can make a big enough impression with their new devices to convince consumers that it is cool to have something different. And, with Blackberry 10 now not out until 2013, Research in Motion risks being left even further behind.

I'm going to be in New York for the Nokia launch, hoping to ask the CEO Stephen Elop whether he is confident that the ailing giant of the mobile industry is at last turning the corner. Watch out for that, and for other news from the front in the smartphone wars.

Rory Cellan-Jones Article written by Rory Cellan-Jones Rory Cellan-Jones Technology correspondent

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  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    Seems like Microsoft and Nokia are done for. Nothing they showed was worthwhile, 2010 specs at best, and they got caught faking the footage for the only hyped feature (a copy of the Sony XMore R sensor). Ooops..

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.


    If you use hearing aids, you can use an inductive neckloop plugged into the phone's headphone socket. With HAs set to 'T', you can hear the caller via your HAs (and therefore crank up the volume).

    Alternatively, some phones work with HAs on 'T' setting (hold it close to your HA and you should be able to hear the caller speaking). Phones usually have a hearing aid compatibility score.

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    @ Patio Furniture ~28. FUD! The truth is if you want a more open platform and are willing to take some sensible precautions regarding what you install then you won't have a problem. Or you can have a gilded prison.

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    Nokia are totally right re Windows.I want a smartphone that interfaces seamlessly with MS Office,utilising the cloud to ensure data consistency/security across a wide range of devices.Why Nokia brought out the Lumia "playphones" is beyond me.Nokia want a slice of Blackberry?keyboard as n97.Samsung?Fablet size/note .Apple?Free satnav/removable battery/500Gb memory.I'll not buy a new phone till then

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    I'm just glad I don't on an iPhone so my personal details won't be posted all over the internet from sources in the FBI who are obviously keeping tabs on the herd.

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    But Linux (and I guess, although I've no experience with it, Android?) systems tend to be very stable and this stability is an attraction to some of us. I run a Linux (OpenSuse) web server and the last thing I want to be doing is tinkering with it.

    But, OK, I don't think I'm a geek.

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.


    Geeks will always prefer Operating Systems they can endlessly tinker with..Apple is more interested in stability.. to be proper hard-core 1337, would require an overclocked smartphone on a custom version of Ubuntu for Android with personally coded Apps and a private Sat Comms system..anything less is simply larging logo loyalties...

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    @35 Smartphones are less frequently being used as phones. I myself use less than 30 minutes per month, but over 3Gb of data. Have you tried Facetime for lipreading or inclusive unlimited SMS deals?

    WRT Rory flying to NYC for 1 meeting, I'm sure he'll be staying for the Motorola and Amazon announcements too, then jet over to the west coast for Apple. That should help justify the carbon footprint

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    @34. ioioos [quote: "30.Patio Furniture said: "Never had the signal loss, that was mostly hype."
    So why did Apple admit the problem?]

    Bridging the gap on the iPhone4 antenna band, can reduce the signal strength by one or two bars. In marginal areas of coverage that may result in earlier signal loss than normal, otherwise it's not an issue.
    They changed the antenna design on the 4S.

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    #35, It might be worth a look at digital recorders. My own (a Zoom H4) has a fiddly interface and (while I think the sound quality is good) isn't really that suitable for doubling up player for collections of mp3/wav files but their might be something in their current range or perhaps from Roland, etc. that is more "pro audio" and would work nicely as a player.

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    Indeed, who cares other than the gormless "my phone is best, yours sucks..." adolescents.
    My wife has an S3, it's very good; I've got a iPhone4 (I didn't need the upgrade to a 4S last year). They're both really good phones.
    My son went gone through 4 Androids in 18 months, due to faulty phones being replaced and an unreliable OS. He's waiting on this years iPhone 5? with a view to changing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    Here's a novel idea: Why don't these manufacturers develop better sound technology and make these devices operate better - as phones. The clue is in the name, after all. As a semi-deaf person there's very little I wouldn't pay for a better listening experience without having to crank up the volume to max and saying 'what?' and 'pardon?' and 'say that again' ad nauseam. MP3s would sound better too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    30.Patio Furniture said:

    "Never had the signal loss, that was mostly hype."

    So why did Apple admit the problem?

    "SIRI was deployed as a Beta, so not useable outside the USA."

    So why base an entire advertising campaign in the UK around a beta that does not work?

    "The Android equivalent is some way behind"

    I use both. Google search spanks SIRI in every way. Real UK results too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    Who cares? Only gormless "me too" teenagers it seems.The number of them now with £500 phones is unbelievable - I wonder how much they are paying per month to talk/text crap to their equally gormless friends? And all for the "privilege" of having the latest over-priced, technically advanced, unreliable phone, which will most likely have just awful call quality. Just listen to any radio phone-in.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    28.Patio Furniture said:

    "I've never felt the need for a USB socket or SD card.I can Airplay to a monitor or TV."

    Try airplaying in a hotel room without taking extra kit.

    And you don't think life is easier to have the same charger for a tablet, camera, speaker, phone or laptop like USB gives?

    And to make it worse, Apple are about to change their port to make you buy more peripherals.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    #23 @Patio Furniture - Yes and those patents, as well as covering some elements of the UI - like bounce back - also included ones around "trade dress". Basically this was the looks of the phone - i.e. a rectangle with rounded corners. The US patent system is clearly broken if you can patent things like this. A similar case in the UK was thrown out with the judge saying the phones weren't the same.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    [quote: .....And quality? No signal, poor battery and SIRI that will only work in the US.]

    Never had the signal loss issue, that was mostly hype.
    Battery life is very good, like all devices, it's how you use it.
    SIRI was initially deployed as a Beta, so not fully useable outside the USA. That all changes with iOS6.
    The Android equivalent is some way behind and widely regarded as very unreliable.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    26.anotherfakename said

    "Nokia - Apparently the whole company is now bet on windows"

    Its risky, but at the moment, probably the wise move.

    They have too much catch up to play with Android. I think the MS/Nokia team will be the ones to kill off and take Blackberry's market share. Businesses are crying out for a simpler mobile solution to their existing Windows infrastructure.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    [Quote: If it was about ease of use, why don't they have a standard USB port, micro SD card, HDMI, changable battery and open platform for content?]

    I've never felt the need for either a USB socket or MicroSD card.
    HDMI, I can Airplay to a monitor or TV.
    Open platform = 25,000+ known malware programmes discovered, with hundreds appearing every week. Android is the Bad Peoples number 1 target.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    Its interesting times in the phone wars.

    By claiming everything is too similar to an iphone, Apple is admitting that other cheaper devices can so the same job. The iphone 5 will need to be a game changer to stop the rot.

    Droid Jellybean is finally looking like the real deal.

    Windows 8 looks the best OS of the lot and will talk to most PCs laptops and the XBOX. Killer combination.


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