MicroMax. Spice. Tianyu. Maxx Mobile. Videocon. Karbonn.
These are some of the hundreds of small cell phone makers that are eating up market share across the developing world. By Gartner's latest quarterly numbers, the top 10 cell phone makers -- including all the big names you know like Nokia, Samsung, LG, Apple, RIM, and HTC -- only control about 64 percent of the market. Since 2004, cell phone makers outside the top 10 have doubled their market share.
The sheer number of phones these smaller players are producing is staggering. They sold 153 million units, including the very popular grey market phones in China. The Shenzhen area alone pumps out one billion phones per year, according to a China Daily article. One city, 1,000,000,000 phones!
Just who are these companies? There are several tiers of companies. At the bottom are thousands of mom-and-pop factories that sell some small number of phones. It's unclear how many of them there are because they often sell into the gray market, but they number in the thousands, so the total number of phones they sell is quite large. We're talking tens of millions of phones.
The next tier up is composed of tiny manufacturers that sell on the order of 100,000 units a quarter, according to Neil Shah, an analyst at Strategy Analytics. These 400 to 500 companies are located mostly in China and India. Taken together, they sell about 30 million phones a quarter, which is 10 million more than Apple does in the same time. Of course, we're not talking about iPhone 5s here. These are cheap and simple phones designed for the cell phone buyers with the least money.