Smartphone Sales Score Record

Vendors shipped a record 54.5 million smartphones in the fourth quarter, 39% more than the 39.2 million shipped in the same quarter in 2008, IDC reported last week.

Four of the top five smartphone vendors bested their own shipment records for a single quarter, IDC said. Apple boosted its

place in the smartphone pack as sales of its iPhone smartphone increased by 98% over the 2008 fourth quarter. Apple now ships the third most smartphones, behind longtime leaders Nokia and Research in Motion.

Ramon Llamas, an analyst at IDC, said vendor moves to cut prices helped to "create a perfect set of conditions to push shipments to a record level." The emergence of Google's Android and the Palm WebOS operating systems had a big impact on 2009 smartphone sales by offering users increased functionality, IDC added.

For all of 2009, vendors shipped 174 million smartphones, up 15% from the 151 million in 2008. All told, smartphones accounted for 15% of all mobile phones shipped in 2009, up from 12.7% in 2008, IDC said.

The analyst firm had issued fourth quartersales figures for all mobile phone shipments last week.

IDC expects that increased demand for smartphones will lead to new shipment records in 2010, especially with Symbian and Windows Mobile operating systems upgrades expected.

For all of 2009, Nokia shipped the most smartphones -- 67.7 million -- and held 39% of the market at year's end. RIM's 34.5 million smartphone shipments in 2009 gave it a 20% share of the market last year. Apple held the third highest market share, 14%, with 25 million shipments.

HTC and Samsung, respectively, finished fourth and fifth in the smartphone market share derby. Each shipped less than 8 million smartphones during the year and finished the year with a market share of less than 10%.

Motorola was a top five smartphone vendor in the 2009 fourth quarter, its first appearance after a year-long absence. Motorola had the fourth highest market share in the period, behind Nokia, RIM and Apple.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld . Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen , send e-mail to mhamblen@computerworld.com or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed .

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