Record shipments for smartphones in 4Q09

The worldwide smartphone market reached a new record level in a single quarter, according to analyst firm IDC.

Vendors shipped a total of 54.5 million units in the fourth quarter of 2009, up 39.0 per cent from the same quarter a year ago. For the full year, vendors shipped a total of 174.2 million units in 2009, up 15.1 per cent from the 151.4 million units in 2008. Converged mobile devices accounted for 15.4 per cent of all mobile phones shipped in 2009, up slightly from 12.7 per cent in 2008.

“Four of the top five vendors established new shipment records for a single quarter, indicating strong demand in the market,” said Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC’s mobile devices technology and trends team. “Increasingly, mobile phone users are seeking greater utility from their devices beyond telephony and messaging, and converged mobile devices fulfil that need. To help address demand, carriers took advantage of lower prices on many older devices, ordering additional units and, in turn, offering reduced prices to end users. It was the perfect set of conditions to push shipments to a record level.”

IDC said it expects ongoing demand to drive the worldwide converged mobile device or smartphone market to a new shipment record in 2010, with additional impetus from the shifting landscape of mobile operating systems.

“2009 was the coming-out party for Google’s Android and Palm’s webOS as both operating systems revealed new ways to surround the users with increased functionality,” said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC’s Mobile Phone Tracker. “More advances are in store for 2010 as Symbian and Windows are expected to unveil new versions of their respective operating systems. These and other operating systems will compete with attention-grabbing intuitiveness and seamlessness, a thriving mobile application library, and a compelling user experience that tightly holds on to the user. In the end, users will benefit from not only greater usability, but greater personalisation and customisation as well.”

Nokia ended the year the same way that it began: as the undisputed leader of converged mobile devices worldwide. However, Apple’s iconic iPhone nearly doubled in shipments from the same quarter a year ago.

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