RIM Becomes a Top-Five Mobile-Handset Vendor, Ejecting Motorola, IDC Says

Research In Motion Ltd. became one the five biggest mobile-phone handset makers in the first quarter, overtaking Motorola Inc. and tying with Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications Ltd., International Data Corp. said.

Consumer enthusiasm for smartphones helped RIM, the Waterloo, Ontario-based maker of the BlackBerry, increase sales 45 percent to match Sony Ericsson’s 3.6 percent share of global handset shipments, the research firm said today in a report.

The market share of Nokia Oyj, the world’s biggest maker of mobile phones, fell almost 2 percentage points from a year earlier to 36.6 percent as shipments remained below the peak of two years ago, IDC said. Smartphone vendors such as RIM and Apple Inc., maker of the iPhone, have profited from consumers seeking to use Internet applications wherever they want in addition to making phone calls, IDC said.

“Last year it was clear to everyone that consumers want to have their e-mail and social networking applications on mobile devices,” Francisco Jeronimo, a London-based analyst at IDC, said in a phone interview. “RIM was very well positioned to succeed there. It’s very interesting to see teenagers in London using BlackBerries, when two years ago this wasn’t so common.”

RIM rose as much as 1.8 percent to $73.37 and was up 0.2 percent at 11:03 a.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The stock has gained 6.8 percent this year.

Motorola’s Departure

Motorola introduced smartphones last year that run on Google Inc.’s Android software, which is used by other suppliers including Samsung Electronics Co. and HTC Corp. The departure of Schaumburg, Illinois-based Motorola from the mobile-phone manufacturers’ ranking marks the first time a company has dropped out of the top five since Sony Ericsson displaced BenQ Siemens in 2005, IDC said.

“It’s clear that Motorola smartphones aren’t as popular as other vendors selling Android,” Jeronimo said. “Motorola doesn’t have enough money to promote their devices and it’s the same with Sony Ericsson and Palm,” which all need to prove their brands will endure.

Industry mobile-phone shipments rose 22 percent in the quarter to 294.9 million handsets, the researchers said. IDC forecasts 11 percent full-year global growth. That compares with a 10 percent worldwide market expansion predicted by Espoo, Finland-based Nokia. Hewlett-Packard Co. agreed on April 28 to buy Palm Inc., betting smartphones will continue to add sales.

Samsung expanded its sales network to take second place with 21.8 percent of the global market, more than the next three vendors combined, IDC said. LG Electronics Inc. held onto third place with 9.2 percent of the market as it lagged behind competitors in introducing smartphones.

‘Vocal’ on Strategy

“Whereas last year we saw much uncertainty around demand and overall reluctance to introduce new devices, vendors have been very vocal about their intentions this year, with some even launching new devices in the quarter,” Ramon Llamas, an analyst at Framingham, Massachusetts-based IDC, wrote in the report.

Samsung, which is also the world’s biggest maker of chip- and display-manufacturing equipment, said today that it will “substantially” increase spending after first-quarter profit rose sevenfold. Shipments of mobile phones, which accounted for about 25 percent of revenue, jumped 40 percent in the period, and the Suwon, South Korea-based company said in February that it aims to triple deliveries of smartphones this year.

The manufacturer introduced the Wave, a large touchscreen device with a 1-gigahertz processor running its new Bada software, at the Mobile World Congress in February. Sony Ericsson announced at the trade show that it will supply the smaller Xperia X10 and Vivaz touchscreens, including a miniature device with a slide-out keyboard.

Worldwide Mobile-Phone Sales

           Units Q1’10   Share   Units Q1’09   Share   Change
            (millions)    (%)     (millions)    (%)     (%)

Nokia         107.8       36.6       93.2       38.4    15.7
Samsung        64.3       21.8       45.9       18.9    40.1
LG             27.1        9.2       22.6        9.3    19.9
RIM            10.6        3.6        7.3        3.0    45.2
Sony Ericsson  10.5        3.6       14.5        6.0   -27.6
Others         74.6       25.3       58.9       24.3    26.7
Total         294.9      100.0      242.4      100.0    21.7

Source: International Data Corp.

To contact the reporter on this story: Diana ben-Aaron in Helsinki at dbenaaron1@bloomberg.net.

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