Samsung also finished 2011 with a flourish. It shipped 35.3 million smart phones in Q4 2011 under its own brand, bringing its total to 91.9 million for the year, compared to just 24.9 million in 2010. This excludes shipments of rebranded products, such as the Nexus S and Galaxy Nexus, which Canalys counts under the Google brand. Samsung continued to spend big on marketing activities, and its strong product portfolio – particularly the Android-based Galaxy S II – performed well.
Despite a disappointing set of financial results, Nokia’s smart phone performance in the fourth quarter gave cause for optimism. It shipped 19.6 million smart phones, down 31% from the record high of a year earlier, but up 17% on Q3 2011. The total was helped by 1.2 million and 0.6 million shipments of its Windows Phone and MeeGo-based products respectively, as well as improved Symbian Belle volumes from competitively priced devices such as the Nokia 500, 700 and 701. Its total smart phone shipments for the year came in at 77.3 million globally.
“Its first Windows Phone products, the Lumia 800 and 710, along with the recently announced Lumia 900 through AT&T in the US, have improved the outlook for Nokia,” said Canalys Senior Analyst, Tim Shepherd. “They are well-designed, competitive devices that demonstrate innovation is still alive within Nokia. But the battle is not over and it has huge challenges ahead. Nokia must continue to build out its Lumia portfolio with devices tailored to address all price points and all the markets in which it aims to compete. It must hasten its transition from Symbian to Windows Phone around the world and, with Microsoft, promote and generate excitement for the platform and new products. And it must succeed in attracting more developers to build high quality, locally relevant apps.”
RIM’s demise in 2011 has been over played by some, with the company ending the year as the fourth largest smart phone vendor and delivering annual unit growth of 5%. “There is no denying that RIM has had a tough year,” said Canalys Principal Analyst, Pete Cunningham. “But when you consider that it is transitioning to a new platform it has done well to increase volume while remaining profitable; the latter point being something that many other vendors struggle with. The appointment of Thorsten Heins as CEO will bring new energy to the company while ensuring that it does not radically deviate from its overall strategy in this transitional year. However, 2012 will become even more competitive and RIM needs BlackBerry 10 devices out there to ensure it retains its status as a major player.”
At a platform level, Android accounted for 52% of global smart phones shipments in Q4 2011, with iOS representing 23% and Symbian 12%. Android was also the leading smart phone platform by volume for the whole year, accounting for 49% of all devices shipped in 2011 and ahead of iOS with 19% share and Symbian with 16%. Collectively, Android smart phone shipments grew 149% year on year in Q4 2011 to 81.9 million units, resulting in a total of 237.8 million for the full year, up 244% on 2010. Samsung’s success and focus on Android have contributed substantially to the growth of the platform, but other vendors, such as Sony Ericsson, Huawei, Motorola, LG and particularly HTC, have also seen significant growth in their Android volumes over the course of 2011.