back to article Apple iPhone tops 2009 smartphone sales

The iPhone was almost certainly 2009's top-selling smartphone after racking up world shipments of 24.89m units. The figure comes from market watcher Gartner, but the conclusion is ours. Gartner revealed the figure today as the iPhone OS' share of the world smartphone market. To put the number into context, Research in Motion …


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  1. Michael

    volume or price

    The real question is the cost of sales at a given volume. Apple I agree have a tiny share of the total phone market. But they are getting to charge through the nose for it. There is an advantage to having only one phone. Also, the phone is helping sell other Apple kit.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      RE: volume or price

      Just looked on the O2 store.

      Nokia N86 can set you back £200, Sony Ericsson W995 can set you back £200 and the iPhone 16Gb a mere £189 (and free on some tarifs). (16Gb is far more than I'll ever need!)

      So your point has been shot down after a mere 30 seconds web browsing...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Jobs Horns

        Re: O2 Prices

        Just to confirm where you got this £189 for an iPhone from? I looked on the same O2 site and it's £449 PAYG which is the real reflection of unit cost, not the subsidised contract price. The contract price of iPhones is as low as possible to attract people with the flagship phone, Apple still charge through the nose to carriers for it, but carriers stump up to drag people onto their network with the 'amazing' iphone...

      2. Justin Clements

        Dont be daft.

        Question is - how many of these handsets do Nokia and SE sell though? Probably a fraction of the iPhone total.

        There is no doubt these other manufacturers sell bucket loads of phones - but the majority will be cheapy horrid little worthless phones. Not value added smartphones.

        I still don't see Apple being bigger by $$ than the other 2-3 companies - but considering Apple is still the new kid to the block as it were, its an enviable position to be in.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Jobs Halo

          ummmm Justin

          You are kidding right?

          Apple DWARFS all the other companies by many times and makes FAR more cash!

          PROFIT is what counts not numbers of units sold.

  2. Bilgepipe
    Gates Horns


    "Yes, Apple sells the iPhone 3G and the 3GS, but they're essentially the same thing, differing solely on chip speed and storage capacity. They don't differ the way the BlackBerry Bold, Curve, Storm 2 and Pearl do, for instance." ... "In all, 1.211 billion phones shipped in 2009, down from 1.200 in 2008, according to Gartner. Apple shipped a mere 2.1 per cent of them."

    What a bitter and twisted article. So this is the latest way the haters are belittling the success of the iPhone and Apples' "victory".

    Wake me when a balanced article comes along, 'kay?

    Disclaimer: I don't own or want an iPhone.

  3. Andy Watt
    Thumb Up

    Ah, but those huge global phone ship totals don't reflect profits....

    They do indeed only make one phone. A smartphone. With biggie markup. 440 million odd Nokia phones shifted may sound impressive but they're not making much on most of those.

    It is interesting how quickly the iPhone has galvanised people into the "smartphone" arena. It's not as if it's a particularly "smart phone" - multitasking, etc - but to be honest it's geeks and those with emotional ties to other platforms who shout the loudest about that one. The fact here is that the game has been changed once again, and finally for the better of the consumer: it's not about the chipset, stupid, it's about the user experience. And the rest of the field are still playing catchup to a degree. Talk about caught with your pants down: where are Nokia and SE in smartphones now?

    1. Chris 211

      balanced article - I think so

      The article is very well put with FACTS and FIGURES to backup the fact that marketing is used to make the fanboys think apple is doing well and the iphone is taking over when it clearly is not. Nokia's e71 still knocks the iphone for functional multitasking use. I can stream music, surf the web and run IM and email all the same time and switch my focus between each one.

      1. Euchrid

        re: balanced article - I think so

        I agree it was a good article.

        One thing that it didn't mention though is that the market share for the Symbian OS was down

        by 5.5% compared to the previous year (i.e. in 2008, it had 52.4% of the market) - and I think this is the first time it's dropped below 50%.

        In terms of smart phone handsets, Nokia and the other big four manufactuers all lost market share last year.

        Also, the iPhone's share of the market fell slightly in the last quarter.

  4. richard 69

    ipod touch?

    runs the iphone os.

    so surely that's included in the os figures?

    so it's not 24M iphones sold?


    1. Alex-TheManfromUncle
      Thumb Up

      *Please Insert Girder*

      A good point well made!

      For it to stick, we'll need the break down of iPod Touches and iPhones please.

    2. Nick Haw

      Not a phone

      Can you make a call to another phone from an ipod touch? I don't think you can.. Unless you install skype or some such other application. It's like including a netbook running android in the figures.

      1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

        And... your point?

        Why not include netbooks, ipads and anything else that can be a phone? Sure, it may not come via AT&T, T-mobile, et al. but so what, the whole point of a smartphone is to have a convergent device that blurs the line between phone and computer. The ipod touch has the same form factor as an iphone so perhaps the delimiter is GSM or 3G but add a MiFi and watch the world get a bit more grey.

        The question is will it really be that long before there is something that you pick up easily at an airport kiosk or 7-11, sticks to your preferred mobile UI device and supplies the desired connection. It could be something like a sim card but one that extends the radio to cover the local government's choice of protocol and frequency.

        1. richard 69

          your point....pointless


          let's look at the evidence.

          24m iphone OS's in use does not equal 24m iphones sold as the ipod touch also uses the iphone OS.

          that's it.



  5. Anonymous Coward

    More iDont money for Skeletor!!!

    2010 will be interesting with 60,000 Android phones currently shipping a day.

    1. Andrew James

      60k per day

      About 22 million units over the year then.

      I read today that a < €150 pre-pay android smartphone will be available in europe later this year. If thats the case, and its any good... 60k per day will become significantly more.

      1. RDW

        Cheap Android phones

        'I read today that a < €150 pre-pay android smartphone will be available in europe later this year.'

        Already happened last year, when the T-mobile Pulse on PAYG went for under 100 GBP for a while (about £150 right now). T-mobile will also sell you 6 months of data access for 20 quid (total) and will unlock the phone for a reasonable fee after 3 months. Android isn't perfect, of course (and neither is T-mobile's coverage!) but when this sort of deal is offered you can get a really capable smartphone (with enough left over for a decent micro SD card) for less than the price of an iPod Touch (let alone the iPhone, which only seems cheap if you look at the contract models and forget about the price of the contract). Hopefully we'll be seeing a lot more phones in this price range before long.

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    1. Rod MacLean

      RE: Apple FUD

      I agree with everything you wrote, except: the title and "The iPhone sure as hell aint no iPod- Apple's only real standout resounding success of the last 20 years that truly did leave the competition standing."

      The reason - the user experience is far better than on many, many other phones from manufacturers who have had years to concentrate on making said phones...

    2. Andrew James

      Yupp. The iPhone is huuuge.

      The iPhone might run hot (though the people i know who have them havent found it any hotter than any other phone)... but its dimensions aren't particularly large. In fact, you could say they're almost exactly normal for this type of phone.

      iPhone 115.5 x 62.1 x 12.3mm (88222 cubic mm) … 135g

      HTC Hero 112.0 x 56.2 x 14.4mm (90639 cubic mm) … 135g

      HTC HD2 120.0 x 67.0 x 11mm (88440 cubic mm) … 157g

      Nexus One 119 x 59.8 x 11.5mm (81836 cubic mm) … 130g

      Nexus One is 3mm narrower, 3.5mm longer and 0.8mm thinner. Overall its cubic mm size is smaller - but then you'd expect that after 2 years of technology moving on and making components smaller, wouldn't you?

      1. David Beck
        Thumb Down

        Different does not equal better

        You mean a different user experience, one that you apparently like. I on the other hand have tried it and can't stand it, I need a physical keyboard to be able to use the phone as I like, so no "touch" phone will ever be a "better user experience" for me.

        Ask yourself, why doesn't everyone want an iPhone? My answer is, because I don't like the interface there must be others like me, what is yours?

    3. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  7. James Robertson 2

    who cares

    I can listen to music while I surf on the iphone and have an IM season active, given the size of a smart phone screen how many apps do you really need running at one time.

    I admit that the iPhone is not the greatest phone for everyone, but don't slag it off as the worst either.

    Its a good smartphone that suits a percentage of customers, same as every other phone. I really don't get the "my phone's better than yours" crap, same as the PC vs Mac flame's, who cares.

    Buy what suits you and let others do the same.

  8. Gil Grissum
    Jobs Horns

    Blah blah blah

    iPhone this... Apple that.... As long as your battery is non-replaceable and you can only get apps from one source (APPLE), I won't be owning an iPhone. Enjoy being hemmed in by Apple. My Blackberry gives me options.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      wah wah

      One source, thousands of developers.

      Or you could just jailbreak it, of course.

    2. sleepy

      My Blackberry gives me options . . .

      A lorryload of phone components gives you even more options.

      And the removable battery is such a joy.

      "So it does!" said Pooh. "It goes in!"

      "So it does!" said Piglet. "And it comes out!"

      "Doesn't it?" said the Blackberry owner "It goes in and out like anything."

    3. Mad Hacker

      Options are good but I bet you don't use them

      Have you every actually used a removable battery? I mean... do you own multiple batteries and switch them out on a regular basis?

      It's great you like options but I don't know anyone who carries a second battery with them. I just don't understand the removable battery being an important feature.

      The app store comment is more valid. Other negatives more important then a removable battery are lack of Bluetooth keyboard support (or a complete Bluetooth stack, really) and lack of a built in ToDo app with sync to Outlook.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up


        People go on and on about removable batteries, but in 10 years, and 8 different smartphones across WinMo and Android, the only times I've ever had to remove the battery were

        a) when putting the SIM in when I first got the device

        b) when WinMo crashed and I needed to remove the battery to force it to reboot.

        With potential technologies like AirNergy* and PowerMat (where you can replace the standard battery with a 3rd-party job that gives wireless charging) then there is starting to be a semblance of a reason to rate a device on the removable battery, but at the moment for the vast majority of device owners, the removable battery serves no other purpose than to give more pieces to pick up and re-assemble if you're unfortunate enough to drop your handset while walking down the street.


      2. David Beck

        Now you do

        The first thing I buy to go with a new phone is a spare battery, charge it and stick it into my backpack in a plastic bag. A modern battery will keep at least half the charge for a few months so I swap the batteries about twice a year. I have used the spare a few times and definitely glad it was there.

        BTW, the second thing I buy is an SD card of the appropriate format to hold media files, maps and some file space.

  9. Synthmeister


    If Nokia "know how to cut their manufacturing costs" as you say, then they aren't doing a very good job. In the last reported quarterly statements, Nokia sold 10 times as many cell phones as Apple but they lost several hundred million dollars for the quarter while Apple made billions. Apple is only trying to sell one model phone where they can make over $600 per phone before they even start counting app, music, movies, e-books and Apple-certified peripheral sales. Meanwhile, Nokia has wasted gobs of energy and money by offering over 200 cell phone models in the US alone. And which OS is Nokia pushing now? Is it Symbian or Maemo or MeeGoo?

    One reason why Apple is so powerful in marketing is because they only need one message selling one product. iPhone! All they have to do in their commercials is show a real hand using a real iPhone using real apps. Nokia has real focus issues.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Halo


    Tony, are you REALLY that ignorant that you do not understand that numbers of units sold is irrelevant?

    What counts is PROFIT.

    Now run along and investigate THOSE figures.

    Different story huh?


    Same goes for the rest of you ignorami.

    I can smell the jealousy and revel in watching you all squirm as Apple spanks the entire industry.

  11. James Katt

    But Apple makes all the profit

    Despite having only about 2.1 percent of the entire world market, Apple makes more profit than Nokia.

    Put in other words: Apple's 24+ million iPhones make more profit than Nokia's 450 + million cell phones.

    Apple does more with very little.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    OT but can't be bothered.

    I think I read that some pundit somewhere suggested Apple do Apple TV more thoroughly but can't source the article so ...


    Were the Apple to do TV fine and dandy it would have to be a device that could deal with satellite, cable and terrestrial on a free to view and DRM'd view basis with pause/record of live broadcast.

    Now that would be an interesting box for sure?

  13. tebiru


    The similarity with Nintendo is striking, and has become increasingly so. Nintendo, in the years between the Super Nintendo and the Wii, had among the smallest market shares in the games industry, but has nearly always been - by quite a distance - the most profitable. All the while, its rivals slugged it out over meaningless 'market share' at the expense of their profit margins. (Nintendo's platform is also the most closed, and like Apple's, the most simple and user-friendly. Funny, that.)

    In any case, while Apple appears content with the low-volume, fat-profit strategy for now, I'd argue it won't be long before they start expanding the range, iPod-style, to hit all segments of the market. Given how world + dog wants an iPhone but can't afford/isn't prepared to fork out for one at current pricing, I'd wager we've only seen a hint of Apple's future dominance of the mobile industry.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Good grief!

    Why is it the same tired bollocks is rolled out by the same ignorant fuckwits every single time the iPhone or Apple are mentioned?! Go on, I dare you to be original! Think different as it were. All they have to say is "I hate Apple and anyone that buys their stuff is an iDiot. Look how clever, knowledgeable and rational I am! " Yes, you are very clever and whitty and most of all, you are a fucking bore! For a company that 'only' sells 24m of one (well two really) models of phone, they're looking in quite rude health next to their 440m selling competitors. I hear that they make decent laptops and desktops too, as well as selling a couple of MP3 players.

    @RegisterFail and Gil Grissum: What is it like to still be living in your mothers basement at aged 40?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Actually they made a profit last quarter of EUR948Million, the loss people mention refers to the prior quarter and was mainly due to a write off in their systems division.

    As is rightly pointed out the enemy of everyone is Andriod. Free OS and kick back on search means that the 'no name' Chinese vendors can produce phones against reference designs.

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