How Mobile Phone Market Shares Have Evolved Over 30 Years

How has the mobile phone market evolved over the past 30 years

How has the mobile phone market evolved since 1993

The mobile landscape looks radically different today than it did three decades ago.

In 1993, Motorola acquired more than half of the mobile phone market. But by 2021, its market share had shrunk to just 2.2%. How did this happen, and how has the mobile phone industry changed over the past 30 years?

This video by James Eagle chronicles the evolution of the mobile phone market, showing the rise and fall of many mobile phone manufacturers. The data spans from December 1992 to December 2021.

The early days of mobile phones

Motorola is known for being a pioneer in the mobile phone industry.

In 1983, the American company launched one of the first commercially available mobile phones in the world – DynaTAC 8000X. The revolutionary analog phone costs nearly $4,000 and allows users up to 30 minutes of talk time before needing a recharge.

Motorola continued to release more devices over the next few years, such as MicroTAC 9800X In 1989 and 3200 International In 1992, it quickly became a dominant player in the emerging industry. In the early days of the market, the company’s only serious competitor was the Finnish multinational Nokia, which acquired the leading mobile network operator Mobira.

But by the mid-1990s, other competitors such as Sony and Siemens had begun to gain some solid foundation, undermining Motorola’s dominance. In September 1995, the company’s market share fell to 32.1%.

Mobile phone market share by company Percentage share (September 1995)
Motorola 32.1%
Nokia 22.0%
Sony 10.7%
NEC 9.2%
Siemens 2.1%
Samsung 0.4%
else 23.5%

By January 1999, Nokia had overtaken Motorola as the leading mobile phone manufacturer, capturing 21.4% of the global market share. This puts it slightly ahead of Motorola at 20.8%.

One of the reasons for the increase in Nokia’s popularity was the company’s great advances in the field of digital telephone. In 1999, the company released Nokia 7110the first mobile phone with a web browser.

But it wasn’t only Nokia’s innovations that held Motorola back. In 1999, Motorola went through hard times after one of its sub-projects called Iridium SSC filed for bankruptcy. This put enormous financial pressure on the company, and eventually laid off a large portion of its workforce after the project failed.

Since then, Motorola’s market share has ranged between 14% and 20%, even Apple’s share Iphone She entered the scene in 2007 and turned the mobile phone industry on its head.

Appearance of iPhone

Things really started to change with the launch of the iPhone in 2007.

In a keynote presentation at the San Francisco Macworld Expo in 2007, Steve Jobs presented the iPhone as three products wrapped into one device: an iPod with a touch screen, a revolutionary cell phone, and an Internet communications device.

One year later, Apple launched the App Store, which gave users the ability to download apps and games to their iPhone. This not only greatly improved iPhone functionality but also allowed consumers to customize their mobile devices like never before.

This was the beginning of a new era of smartphones – one that Motorola failed to keep up with. Less than two years after the launch of the iPhone, Apple captured 17.4% of the mobile market. In contrast, Motorola’s market share shrank to 4.9%.

By the end of 2021, Apple had captured about 27.3% of the global mobile phone market. The iPhone is an essential part of the tech giant’s growth, driving more than 50% of the company’s total revenue.

Axle failure

While a number of factors contributed to Motorola’s downfall, many point to one central hurdle – the company’s failure to pivot.

The advent of the iPhone marked the beginning of a new era based on software. Motorola has mastered the hardware age, but has failed to keep pace with the changing tides. The animation above highlights other companies that have also failed to adapt or keep up, including BlackBerry (formerly RIM), Palm, Sony and LG.

But Apple is not alone. The popularity of Google’s Android mobile operating system has helped competitors such as Samsung in South Korea and Huawei and China’s Xiaomi thrive, as each company has established a strong foothold in the global mobile market.

In today’s fast-paced world, the ability to pivot is essential if businesses are to remain competitive. Will today’s mobile giants like Apple and Samsung stay ahead? Or will other companies like Huawei catch up in the next few years?

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This article was published as part of the Visual Capitalist Creators Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite creators around the world.