iPhone, Android Boost Smartphone Market

Shipments of smartphones in the first quarter of 2010 grew to 54.7million units, a 56.7 percent increase over the first quarter of 2009,according to a report from market researcher IDC. That's more than double the rate of the overall mobile market, which grew 21.7 percent year-over-year in the first quarter of 2010.

This comes after a 38 percent year-over-year jump in Q4 of 2009, which was impressive in and of itself.

Like the semiconductor market that made a roaring come-back this quarter, the year-to-year growth can be attributed to the fact that the first quarter of 2009 was marked by a deep recession in which consumer spending screeched to a halt, and now the economy is in recovery.

While hot sellers in developer economies such as the U.S., smartphones are still a minority platform in the global picture and only accounted for 18.8 percent of all mobile phones shipped in the quarter. Still, IDC sees "tremendous potential of the market" for further growth.

"2010 looks to be another year of large-scale consumer adoption of converged mobile devices," said Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC's Mobile Devices Technology and Trends team in a statement. "Consumers will gravitate to smartphones not just because the devices themselves look 'cool' and 'slick', but because the overall experience aligns with their individual tastes and demands."

This year, Research in Motion, Nokia, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) are expected to roll out major new operating system updates and/or hardware, and IDC expects this to be another very busy year for the smartphone market.

Nokia remains the leading smartphone vendor worldwide with a 39.3 percent market share, followed by RIM with a 19.4 percent share, Apple with 16.1 percent, HTC with 4.8 percent and Motorola with 4.2 percent.

Apple was the growth leader, up 131.6 percent year-over-year, from 3.8 million iPhones sold in Q1 2009 to 8.8 million units in its most recently completed quarter.

Outlook for 2010

Nokia has already introduced several new phones and announced its first Symbian^3 OS-powered model, the N8. More ^3 devices are expected this year. IDC says the ^3 OS is more intuitive and puts Nokia on par with Apple and Android in terms of ease of use.

Research In Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM) recently unveiled the company's newBlackBerry OS 6, due out later this year, which promises a smoother and more interactive user interface. The company is also rumored to have a tablet in the works, according to the blog BlackBerry Leaks.

Apple more than doubled its shipments thanks to very strong international sales. A fourth-generation iPhone is expected to arrive this summer, and users think they know what to expect after many features were inadvertently previewed after a lost prototype was found in a Bay Area bar last month. Apple will likely unveil it at the Worldwide Developer Conference taking place next month.

HTC is enjoying great success thanks to its heavy involvement in Android-powered products, including the Hero, Droid Eris and MyTouch. HTC also announced the first WiMAX Android phone, the EVO 4G, and has a very hot product with Verizon, called the Incredible.

Motorola (NYSE: MOT) came charging back thanks to the Droid, and is following up this year with up to 20 different models and plans to ship 12 million to 14 million Android smartphones this year.

Andy Patrizio is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

TAGS:

Android, iPhone, smartphones, IDC, Motorola

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