Nokia Stays Strong on Home Turf
IDC finds that the Western European mobile device market -- including traditional handhelds and smartphones -- grew by 26 percent during 2005 and 32 percent in the final quarter of 2005. But during the final three months of 2005, stand-alone handhelds experienced a fall in shipments, while the smartphone market was dominated by Nokia with its S60, S70, and enterprise-focused Communicator models.
Nokia maintained a solid 62 percent share of the European market with its smartphones in the last quarter of 2005, shipping 2.8 million units, IDC finds. This was helped by major rivals such as Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) and Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications that were all busily readying new models for 2006, while Nokia released the S70 smartphone, which, like the S60 uses the Symbian Ltd. operating system.
Pulling in a distant second is the aforementioned RIM. The Canadian vendor shipped 215,000 units in the fourth quarter of 2005, which represents a 17 percent increase year-on-year.
IDC says that RIM was helped in Europe by "the prolonged absence of push email capability" in the new version of the Windows Mobile operating system, combined with the launch of EDGE-compatible devices, which will run on faster 3G networks.
RIM is top dog for handhelds in North America with a a 23 percent share, according to Gartner Inc. but has a way to go to catch Nokia in Europe -- and much of the rest of the world.
One of the big questions for 2006 is how the release of devices using Windows Mobile 5.0 will affect the enterprise smartphone market and if Microsoft can grab some market share in Europe from Nokia and RIM.
"The release of Windows Mobile 5.0 and the influx of new devices that is fueling promises to invigorate the market in 2006, particularly within the enterprise space," said Andrew Brown, program manager for European mobile devices and computing at IDC, in a statement. "However, Symbian's positioning as an OS and flexibility to enable low-cost implementation in multimedia or enterprise-centric devices means Microsoft faces a significant challenge to rival the dominance that Symbian has established to date."
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung