Apple doubles iPhone sales

Apple sold 16.9 million iPhones during the first quarter of 2011 – effectively more than doubling sales year-on-year.

According to Gartner research VP Carolina Milanesi, the “market-beating growth” came from all regions, as the popular smartphone is now available in 90 countries from 186 CSPs.

“This strong performance helped Apple consolidate its position as the fourth largest brand in the mobile communication market overall,” Milanesi explained. 

“Considering the higher than average price of the iPhone this is a remarkable result and highlights the impact a strong aspirational brand can have on a product.”

Milanesi noted inventory levels at the end of the quarter were slightly higher than usual, as Apple not only continues to expand in markets such as China, (where distribution is more fragmented), but also extends its reach with new CSPs.

Meanwhile, Roberta Cozza, principal research analyst at Gartner, confirmed that Android (Google) and iOS (Apple) continued to dominate the smartphone OS wars.

However, Cozza said the big news in Q1 2011 was Nokia’s strategic alliance with Microsoft on Windows Phone 7, along with Symbian’s untimely retirement.

“[Clearly], this will precipitate a competitors’ rush to capture Symbian’s market share in the midtier.”

The analyst was also quick to emphasize the three primary critical success factors for mobile device manufacturers: ecosystem, applications and services.

“Every time a user downloads a native app to their smartphone or puts their data into a platform’s cloud service, they are committing to a particular ecosystem and reducing the chances of switching to a new platform. This is a clear advantage for the current stronger ecosystem owners Apple and Google. 

“As well as putting their devices in the context of a broader ecosystem, manufacturers must start to see their smartphones as part of a computing continuum,” she added.