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Huge smartphone market growth isn’t helping T-Mobile

by Phil Hornshaw

The smartphone market continues to balloon at a huge rate all over the world, helping manufacturers like Apple (AAPL), Samsung (005930.KS) and HTC (2498.TW) to sell millions of phones during the past year.

New data released by research firm IDC shows the market increasing by 79.7 percent between Q1 2011 and the same time last year, with 99.6 million smartphones shipping in the first part of 2011, according to a story from Mashable.

The biggest winners right now are Samsung, HTC and Apple. Samsung’s sales year-over-year went up 350 percent, increasing its smartphone shipments to 10.8 million from 2.4 million this time last year. HTC was next with a change of 229.6 percent, shipping 8.9 million devices in Q1 2011 and 2.7 million in Q1 2010. Apple’s gains were also impressive, with 18.7 million devices shipped in 2011, rising from 8.7 during the same period in 2010 and increasing shipments by 114.7 percent. All other smartphone manufacturers increased their shipments by 143.7 percent, going from 9.5 in the first quarter of 2010 to 23.2 in the same period in 2011.

Nokia (NOK) still holds the biggest cut of the smartphone market and also increased its shipments, but the company is on a steady slide downward compared to its competitors: its Q1 2010 market share was 38.8 percent, but that has fallen 24.3 during the past year. Apple holds the second slot with its 18.7 percent share of the industry, followed by BlackBerry makers Research In Motion (RIMM) with 14 percent, Samsung at 10.8 percent and HTC with 8.9 percent.

Not everybody’s a winner

While Android phones enjoy a huge chunk of the market -- Samsung and HTC both produce phones using the operating system, as do manufacturers that aren’t Nokia, RIM and Apple that make up another 23 percent of the market -- not all wireless carriers are feeling the love.

Fresh from the announcement of a deal to be acquired by AT&T (T), T-Mobile announced that it lost 99,000 subscribers in the first quarter of 2011, bringing its total lost net contract subscribers to 471,000, which is up from 118,000 net contract subscribers lost during the same period last year.

According to a story from GigaOM, T-Mobile also posted a loss of net income for the quarter, though its revenues remained flat. Net income dropped to $135 million this quarter, down from $362 million in Q1 2010. Sprint (S), AT&T and Verizon (VZ) all posted positive numbers for the quarter, leaving T-Mobile as the odd-man out in the market.

But it wasn’t all bad for T-Mobile, which is enjoying some perks of the smartphone boom -- namely, it added about 1 million subscribers to 3G or 4G coverage, and its data service revenues jumped 20 percent year-over-year, topping $1.33 billion. Still, given the numbers, that deal with AT&T looks better for T-Mobile all the time.