Eric Lai

Key overlooked stats about the iPhone (reality distortion field still works)

By Eric Lai
June 06, 2008 8:35 PM EDT

Probably like many of you, I assumed - based on all of the hype and zooming sales reports for the iPhone - that the Apple Inc. smartphone had already surpassed Microsoft's entry in this space, Windows Mobile. Heck, I wouldn't have even been surprised if it had eclipsed the BlackBerry.

Boy, was I wrong, for which I blame the U.S.-centricity of most tech reporting, as well as Steve Jobs' reality-distortion field.

Here are some no-doubt-to-be-overlooked statistics from Gartner Inc. (for a full chart see Microsoft Watch's Joe Wilcox blog) that show for the iPhone, mindshare still outstrips market share:

- 3.86 million Windows Mobile phones were shipped worldwide in the first quarter, according to Gartner. That's 125% (corrected from earlier 60%) more than the 1.72 million iPhones shipped in Q1.

- The iPhone is no doubt hurting sales of Windows Mobile smartphones. But the latter's sales were still up 33% from a year ago, according to Gartner, outpacing the overall market's 30% growth.

- Apple sold 5.4 million iPhones worldwide in its first 9 months. But a no-name Taiwanese company called HTC sold 3 million of its critically-acclaimed Touch smartphone in 11 months. HTC expects to do even better with the successor, the Touch Diamond, and sell an iPhone-like 3 million Touch Diamonds in the next seven months. Both HTC phones run Windows Mobile, offer touch-screen technology similar to the iPhone's, and cost about $500 - or as much as the iPhone.

- Nokia sells way more smartphones than Apple. The Finnish company shipped 14.5 million in Q1, 8.4 times as many as Apple (I'm not including Nokia's regular cellphone sales, which are much much larger). Granted, Apple has one model to Nokia's many. But be honest: was it in the back of your mind that maybe, just maybe, the iPhone was already more popular than all of Nokia combined?

- Apple's worldwide share of the smartphone market is just 5.3%. RIM has 13.4%, or 2.5 times more. Despite all of the talk about corporate workers wanting to use their iPhone at work, Blackberry sales are still more than double last year's, according to Gartner.

- One could argue that iPhone sales have been artificially capped by the small number of countries in which they are officially sold. But there are reports that many iPhones sold in the U.S. - as many as 1 million, or 25% of the 4 million sold in the U.S. last year, according to the BBC - have been 'unlocked' and are now being used in Canada, China and other markets where iPhones aren't sold yet. Apple itself says the number of unlocked iPhones is "significant."

The iPhone is still the single most popular model of smartphone. And it is undoubtedly the most influential. But let's not get ahead of ourselves and prematurely crown it the market king.