Trading Places: How Apple climbed into the Top Tier

Apple reached fourth place in ranking of top phone vendors by units sold. I guess that makes it a “top tier” vendor.

So how did it get there?

Here is a chart showing how market share evolved since the quarter when iPhone launched:

Units sold and shares.

The chart shows how this cohort of eight vendors has fared over the past 3.25 years. The squeeze on Motorola and Sony Ericsson is plainly evident. What’s harder to tell is how the tiny players in the smartphone place fare in the ranking of “top tier”.

Here are the same vendors with their position in the volume leader league table over time:

Lots of interesting patterns here which I’ll leave to the reader to interpret.

  • sb86

    What measure of market share is being used? Units shipped / revenue etc?

    • asymco


  • Magic

    Cool but I think you are missing ZTE…Apple is #5 behind ZTE

  • Ted

    These are not very good charts. Some colors are too close to each other, and the story doesn't really jump. I own a bunch of Apple stock, and I'm happy, but the iPhone doesn't look like it's really wacking anybody judging by the charts. I particularly "enjoy" the railroad switch control panel on the bottom.

    • David Chu

      Make a better chart then. The data is available for download.

  • HTC growth is very impressive also. I don't understand why HTC's numbers last quarter are shown as down. That seems counter-intuitive give Android's growth and HTC's just-reported recent earnings and sales.

    • asymco

      HTC is not down. They sold 6.8 million phones. Up from 3.5 last year and 5.4 last quarter. Share reached 2%.

  • asymco

    That is coming up next, after which comes pricing analysis and profit share analysis. Then a few more bits of analysis.

  • Jon

    What tools/apps do you use to create your graphs? They are really nice 🙂

    • asymco

      Numbers, part of iWork. $79 at the Apple Store.

      • Jon

        I should have guessed!

  • a fan

    As always, your graphs are great and insightful! BTW, what software do you use to generate them?

  • Any plans for some similar charts over the same period showing total revenue and profit split between all the companies? Be interesting to see how this has shifted around, wether it has grown over time, as well as what dent the recession made. Wonder how it matches up with total phone sales,

    • asymco

      Yes, coming next week. I do it every quarter. See the data from last quarter here:

    • Alexkhan2000

      Based on a separate Canaccord report released today, Apple's profit share (I assume operating profit or EBIT) of the entire cellphone market is a staggering 47%.

      Looking forward to Horace's breakdown by revenue and profit next week. That should show what a bloodbath this truly is for Apple's competitors.

  • badari

    does this represent all units or only smartphone units..great visualization!

    • kevin

      These charts are all phones. If narrowed to just smartphones, Apple has reached over 18% share this quarter, and is in second place to just Nokia.

  • famousringo

    I kinda feel sorry for RIM. They're actually doing quite well, at least for the moment. It's just that Apple's stratospheric growth makes RIM's robust growth look bad.

  • Rou

    I find the Others to be the most interesting, standing for most of the market growth. Your vector graphs showed the big players eating each others shares while this shows market growth/recovery looks to come from Others. I'd love to see it shown as a solid black instead of light grey- the Black Plague.

    What's your take on the issue Asymco?

    • asymco

      Others are challenging at both the high- and the low-end in terms of price and smartphones (Android mostly). Others however are challenged by limited distribution and brand power to reach internationally. ZTE is the most likely to be a challenger after HTC, though HTC took the high-end strategy exclusively.

  • Iphoned

    Contrast this with Microsoft’s game market entry.
    How many years now? Ten? And barely a profit contribution,

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