Smartphones are now more popular than feature phones

Western European feature phone shipments continued to decline sharply in 2Q11 as consumers increasingly move to smartphones.

Feature phone shipments were down 29% to 20.4 million units in 2Q11, while smartphone shipments increased 48% to 21.8 million units from a year ago. The total Western European mobile phone market, however, declined 3% year on year to 42.2 million units in the quarter.

This is the first time that smartphone shipments have surpassed feature phone shipments in Western Europe, representing 52% of total mobile phone shipments. All European countries are seeing increasing smartphone adoption, as consumers go for Android-based devices and the iPhone from Apple.

On the other hand, mobile operators stopped subsidizing feature phones in Europe some time ago now, which has made the devices less attractive to users. Feature phones are becoming a niche segment driven by the very-low-end devices targeted at users who only need a device for voice and texts.

This quarter was particularly important from the device type perspective. Smartphones now dominate the Western European phone market and those vendors with stronger portfolios in the segment are consolidating their positions, compared with those manufacturers with less attractive smart devices.

Android-powered handsets from the likes of Samsung, HTC, and Sony Ericsson have been able to drive strong volumes and to grab the biggest slice of share from the declining Symbian as Nokia moves to Windows Phones.

However, the overall market had slipped into the red due to a number of factors. First, the economic environment in the eurozone is deteriorating, with a direct impact on consumer demand.

Secondly, the smartphone segment was strongly impacted by the sharp decline of Nokia, which was not totally offset by the remaining players, which may indicate that Symbian fans are holding off on their phone replacements until Nokia launches its Windows Phones.

Lastly, operators focused on clearing inventories for the introduction of the new devices expected in the third quarter, such as the iPhone 5 from Apple and Windows Phones from HTC and other players.

Android OS strengthened its leadership in the region, with shipments up 352% year on year to 10.5 million units, which represented 48.5% of total smartphone shipments. Samsung was the most representative Android manufacturer, supported by the success of the Galaxy devices family.

Francisco Jeronimo joined IDC in June 2008 as research manager for European Mobile Devices. Based in London, he is primarily responsible for research that covers mobile handset trends across Europe. He is also responsible for the European Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker program. Francisco has been working in the telecom industry for 10 years in countries such as Japan, Finland, and Portugal. Before joining IDC, Jeronimo was responsible for the mobile devices business of LG in Portugal, in particular developing the open market channel and the business with Vodafone. In Portugal, he worked with all the mobile operators and managed the distribution channel of the second-biggest wholesaler. He launched a mobile software development company and did project management and consultancy in mobility for several companies in different industries. Before that, in 1998, he started working for Nokia R&D Center in Japan and then in Finland. He has a master's degree in management from Oporto University in Portugal and is a postgraduate in sales management from Lisbon University with a major in telecoms. He is fluent in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.