Mobile Market Second Quarter 2010 Recap

The market results for the second quarter of 2010 were posted last week, and the activity for mobile phone companies reveals an ever-intensifying battle between Google and Apple, along with several other developments in the smartphone realm. 

According to comScore, 49.1 million Americans aged 13 and over owned smartphones from Feb 2nd to the end of May, an 8.1 percent increase from the same term the previous year.

The major smartphone operators vying for this market are Palm, Microsoft, RIM, Apple and Google, and each one of these saw a slip in market share except for Google, which seemingly wrested its 4 point increase from its collective competitors. Google bounded by offering the popular Android system through T-Mobile, Verizon, HTC and Sprint.

Apple slipped 1 point to 24.4 percent, Microsoft dropped 1.9 points to 13.2 percent, RIM slipped 0.4 points to 41.7 percent, and Palm dropped 0.6 points to 4.8 percent.

It is important to note that Apple’s market share likely waned due to an anticipatory period before the release of the massively popular iPhone 4, which sold over 3 million by July 16th and was the most successful product launch for the storied company.

But mobile devices are only a piece of the pie—about 50 percent of it for Apple—with notebook sales skyrocketing despite the release of the iPad.

Not that the iPad was a bad thing for Apple either. Sales of the iPad have been a hearty 3.27 million by the end of the second quarter, which shows Apple’s success in tapping the tablet market, something which has been tried futilely by other companies.

Now a strong argument can be made that Apple has defined the tablet much to the extent that they defined the portable music market with the iPod and its crushing win over the MP3 player.

Yet, while Apple has been making headlines with their flashy (if not controversial) products, the other players have maintained strong footing with savvy marketing practices, frantic mergers and what seems like shear grit.

BlackBerry manufacturer RIM still commands the greatest portion of the smartphone market with 41.7 percent. And Microsoft still earned $4.52 billion in the quarter, outshining both Apple, with $3.52 billion and Google, with $1.8 billion. (Remember, still, that these are before iPhone 4.)

Graph credit to

Microsoft did this in the absence of a smartphone that competes with those put forth by the other operators and despite having to cancel the Kin.

According to this article in the New York Times, Microsoft’s success results from targeting businesses, an industry that is far less glamorous to the media, and therefore, far less likely to make headlines. Nonetheless, Microsoft has a history of selling to both consumers and customers, and without the shiny Macs, iPads, and iPhones their grasp of garnering new customers will steadily drop—even when they sell 150 million Windows 7 OS licenses. Those Windows 7 licenses were mainly purchased by previous Windows Vista users, a disconcerting fact for investors.

The release of the Windows Phone 7 is imminent. The company announced on July 18 that it was in its technical preview stage, and it has received promising-yet-iffy pre-launch reviews. Whether they will get their heads in the game in time for the 2010 holiday release season remains to be seen.