The iPhone Is Creating Smartphone Marketshare, Not Stealing It

This is something that I had personally guessed, but didn’t have any numbers to prove my theory. Thanks to IntoMobile.com and Canalysis.com, I now have the numbers to back up my theory that the iPhone hasn’t been ‘stealing’ marketshare away from existing smartphone manufacturers, but has instead merely increased the size of the smartphone market overall, likely converting more featurephone users into smartphone users, as opposed to converting existing smartphone users.

When Steve Jobs said that the iPhone was killing in the smartphone market, fanboys the world over declared war on the other smartphone manufacturers, saying they’d better watch out. Not so fast, kiddies. The iPhone has garnered an impressive share for such a short product life thus far, but it’s not quite a threat in reality.

canalysischart

Take a gander at this chart from Canalysis.com showing smartphone device shipments and corresponding marketshare numbers for Q4 ’06 and Q4 ’07. You’ll notice that the entire smartphone market grew by 14.8 million units between the two quarters, a 72% increase. Of that increase, Apple snagged 16%, whereas RIM also managed 15%, and Nokia claimed a whopping 52% increase quarter over quarter.

Apple is most certainly doing well with the iPhone, and 16% of the smartphone market increase is definitely something to be proud of, but it’s no more growth than the incumbents saw for the same time period, proving that the entire market is growing quickly, not just Apple’s share. Apple is going to have to bring more than just firmware updates and storage increases in 2008 to maintain that level of growth and really create a firm foundation.

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