Nokia’s market share slips back to the last century
Nokia’s share of the global mobile phone market has fallen to its lowest level since 1999 – back when “1 message received” was still a thrill and playing Snake was the height of handset gaming pleasure. According to new figures from research firm Gartner, Nokia’s market share shrank to 28.2 per cent in the third quarter, down from 36.7 per cent a year ago.
This time, it’s not Nokia’s disadvantage relative to smartphone specialists like Apple that’s primarily to blame, but a push by unbranded Chinese vendors into emerging markets, according to Gartner. Nokia and other established handset makers like Samsung and LG are all losing out to these so-called “white-box” manufacturers, which are mostly small Chinese firms using chipsets from Mediatek or Spreadtrum Communications.
As Nokia controls most of the low-end of the market, it’s been the most affected. Maybe not for long, however, as the focus of the white-box manufacturers is upshifting to the faster growing smartphone end of the market – the phrase “iPhone clone” is currently doing rather well in the Google search term charts. Overall, thanks to both the popularity of smartphones and a surge in white-box sales in Africa, India, South America and Russia, Gartner forecasts that the mobile phone market will grow by more than 30 per cent this year.
Nokia’s still the biggest handset manufacturer (Apple has now claimed the number five spot), and its catch-up efforts in the smartphone markets mean its margins are improving. So it’s not time for the Finnish company to go back to pulping wood and selling snazzy rubber boots, just yet. And, who knows, maybe some day there will be a revival for a time when, if you wanted to, you could hurl your handset repeatedly against a wall and it would emerge with just a tiny scratch and no hurt feelings.