Mobile Stats, Symbian wins hands down

There have been some interesting talks recently with various statistics about phone sales thrown in.

Though everyone wants to develop for the sexy iPhone, in global terms it's actually a small player in terms of sales and also as there's such a wealth of applications getting yours' noticed in the 140,000 or so iPhone apps that are out there is very difficult. Of course if you can get it noticed then Apple definitely have the nicest app store out there and it's easy to bill and even charge for in app content.

Ewan Macleod did a presentation at Devnest on Wednesday and here are some stats from his presentation.

There are 4.6bn mobile subscribers (compared to 1.6bn TVs and 1.7bn credit cards - begs the question why don't mobile phone companies do mobile payments). In 2009 there are 1.2bn mobile phones sold (300m TVs and 280m PCs).

Comparing global handset sales Nokia 36% (441m), Other 25% (300m), Samsung 19% (236m), LG 10% (122m), Motorola 5% (58m) and SonyEricsson 5% (55m). So Nokia shipped 1.4m phones per day.

However the North American market is different, Nokia don't even make a dent (which may sway developers are they look at US developers who have no experience with Nokia). Here's it all RIM with 43%, iPhone 25.1%, Windows Mobile 15.7%, Android 7.1% and Palm 5.7%. Interestingly Android is expected to increase to 20% of the smartphone market there.

Ask a developer what platforms they're developing for and it's 92% iPhone and 8% Android, but if you look at mobile phone OS penetrations it's: -

* Symbian 47%
* RIM 20%
* iPhone 14%
* Windows Phone 9%
* Linux 5%
* Android 4%
* Palm WebOS 1%

In the UK there are about 3m iPhones out in the market, that means there are 50 - 60m handsets that iPhone developers are missing (OK not all of them are smartphones).

Many people have written-off Symbian, but it's still the most popular phone OS and now that it's been open sourced with a sensible abstraction layer (Qt) it's easier to write for. Though Nokia's Ovi store isn't the best out there (some people may say it's particularly poor), Nokia are constantly improving it and there are now over 1.5m downloads per day.

Phone companies have developer programs, even Apple has one, but you have to play by their rules and particularly their approval process it can takes weeks to get approved, Android takes under 1 second.

Various operators runs competitions to stimulate apps for their platforms (Vodafone 360, Blackberry, Nokia) - some of these may be 'under utilised' so the chances of winning are highly elevated, it's worth having a look to see who's doing what.

So it looks like developers (globally) are swayed by the US market, but they should be taking a more global view and no one should be writing Symbian off yet.
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