While we have looked at the average mobile subscribers per 100 in population globally in our article Macro demographics just as important as new product introduction, a more striking statistic is that almost half of the world’s unit shipments of mobile phones (both feature and smart phones) go to Asia. This global view of where mobile phones are consumed is vital during new product rollouts. For example, when Research in Motion (RIMM) launched its new Blackberry 10 this week and announced releasing the product specifically in Canada and the U.K. initially, it is important to recognize that these are very small markets compared to Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America.
The Blackberry 10 launch this week was disappointing because the company was only ready to launch the product in Canada and the U.K. within a week, with introduction into the larger U.S. market delayed until mid-March. As seen above, the Canadian market only comprised 1% of global mobile shipments as of most recent data from IDC and the U.K. market is a portion of the 10% as outlined by Western Europe 1. These markets pale in comparison to the substantial global share of Asia ex-Japan at 49%, the Middle East at 12%, and Latin America at 11%. Asia ex-Japan is largely the Chinese market, which was not addressed in RIMM’s new product announcement, which was disappointing with China’s disproportionate global clout.
While many small local Chinese manufacturers make up the bulk of the handset providers as designated by the Others category above, global manufacturers including Samsung, Nokia (NOK), Apple (APPL), and Research in Motion do have legitimate share. Nokia, at 15.4%, has the third highest shipments into China, a much more substantial position in comparison to the company’s total smart phone market share, which is di minimis. Apple’s market share drops substantially to 3.1% in the chart above, which includes both smart and feature phones. When looking at just smart phone share in China, Apple sits at a much higher 6% share. Research in Motion, at 0.4%, is represented by its original Blackberry devices, without any potential impact from its new product announcement this week. While RIMM has never been a huge Chinese player, because that market represents such a substantial portion of world demand, even small share could result in meaningful unit volume.
While bits and pieces of market share globally can add up, there is no doubt that China, the Middle East, and Latin America are the most important segments of the mobile device industry. For Nokia, the recent launch of its new Lumia phone has had decent sell through globally, but its Chinese market share impact has yet to be recorded through industry data. For Research in Motion, while current plans are to launch the Blackberry 10 in Canada, the U.K., and the U.S., the eventual release in China could be a bigger catalyst than the current announcements alone because of the sheer size of the Asian market.
- We estimate the U.K. is 30% of Western Europe or thus 3% of the world’s mobile shipments ↩