RIM moves up to No. 3 on smartphone device, OS ranking

Company sees jump despite sales decline, says Gartner

Finnish mobile phone maker Nokia (NYSE: NOK) is continuing its slide in the smartphone market, dropping from the No. 3 smartphone maker to No. 7 in the third quarter, according to the most recent data from Gartner.

Research in Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM) took over Nokia's No. 3 spot, despite a smartphone sales decline, far behind frontrunners Samsung and Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), according to Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner.

Gupta said that the launch of Nokia's new Lumia devices running Windows 8 should help to halt the company's slide in the fourth quarter, but he doesn't think that Nokia's position will improve until 2013.

Overall, smartphone sales have increased 47 percent from the third quarter of 2011, accounting for close to 40 percent of the 428 million mobile phone units sold in the third quarter.

The Gartner analyst expects Apple's sales to increase as the iPhone 5 gains traction and the holiday season approaches. "We saw inventory built up into the channel as Apple prepared for the coming holiday season, global expansions and the launch into China in the fourth quarter of 2012," said Gupta.

Mobile phone sales overall declined 3 percent in the third quarter compared to the same quarter in 2011, however, sales increased quarter-over-quarter.

"After two consecutive quarters of decline in mobile phone sales, demand has improved in both mature and emerging markets as sales increased sequentially. In China, sales of mobile phones grew, driven by sales of smartphones, while demand of feature phones remained weak. In mature markets, we finally saw replacement sales pick up with the launch of new devices in the quarter," Gupta said.

In the smartphone operating system market, Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android increased its market share by 20 percentage points in the third quarter of 2012. As it did in the device market, RIM moved up to No. 3 in the third quarter, despite a sales decline, as Nokia's Symbian OS fell from No. 3 to No. 5, while Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) Windows Phone came in at No. 6.

Gartner expects iOS market share to grow with the launch of iOS 6 and iPhone 5, as well as Windows Phone, with the launch of Windows Phone 8.

According to Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney, the consumer mobile device market fuels BYOD uptake in the enterprise, so trends in the consumer market are likely to translate into the mobile IT space.

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