Apple passes Nokia to become top smartphone maker in Australia

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Apple's iPhone has taken a 36.5 percent share of the smartphone market in Australia, passing Nokia's 30.5 percent share to become the continent's top smartphone maker.

According to IDC figures reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, Nokia remains the top mobile maker overall, with a 37.6 percent share of all phones sold.

However, Nokia's loss of its leadership role in smartphones is notable for two reasons. First, sophisticated smartphones account for most of the profits in the mobile handset industry, and Nokia's Symbian has fallen behind in the software technology needed to deliver compelling smartphone products.

Secondly, Australia represents a significant foreign market that Nokia has comfortably held under its control since taking the top selling smartphone title from Palm in 2002.

Nokia has never had much of a presence in the US, where Apple initially shipped the iPhone. However, as Apple expanded to take leading positions in Europe and Japan as the most popular phone model, Symbian has retreated into smaller markets.

Web statistics published last week by StatCounter indicate Apple's iOS has already taken the lead in North America, Europe and Australia as the most popular devices to browse the web.

Android advancing from the rear

Behind Apple's iOS iPhone and Nokia's Symbian smartphones, all of the manufacturers using Google's Android OS together amount to a collective share of 21 percent of the Australian smartphone market. That share is growing fast, up from only 2.1 percent at the beginning of the year.

"It's looking like next year it's going to be close between Android and Apple," IDC Australia analyst Mark Novosel said in the report, "but I would be inclined to say that Apple will keep its lead, although we have been under pretty much every quarter with our Android forecast so anything really is possible at this stage."

Smartphone sales in Australia have grown by 67 percent over the last year, and now account for 60 percent of all mobiles sold.

"2011 will be a critical year in the Australian market, Android will continue its strong upward trend, with Apple's iOS leading the charge," Novosel concluded.