Smartphone shipments have increased by almost 100 per cent over the past year to account for 20 per cent of all mobile handset sales, according to new figures from Gartner.
The analyst firm's latest Competitive Landscape report said that worldwide mobile phone sales reached 417 million in the third quarter of 2010, up 35 per cent on the same quarter last year. Some 19 per cent of the sales were smartphones, representing a gain of 96 per cent.
"This is the third consecutive double-digit increase in sales year on year, indicating that consumer demand is healthy," said Carolina Milanesi, a research vice president at Gartner.
"This quarter saw Apple and Android drive record smartphone sales. Apple's share of the smartphone market surpassed RIM in North America to put it second behind Android, while Android volumes grew rapidly making it the number two operating system worldwide."
Nokia, Samsung and LG sold the most units, but Apple snuck into the top five ahead of RIM, Gartner said.
Nokia, which has struggled in the smartphone market, sold 110.4 million units thanks in part to its range of lower cost devices. However, where smartphones were unavailable, often as the result of component shortages, Nokia benefited as people chose higher priced units.
Samsung improved its smartphone share to 10 per cent over the period, and was the top Android seller with some 6.6 million phones sold. Samsung also sold around one million devices that use the firm's Bada platform.
Symbian was the clear leader in terms of operating systems with 36.6 per cent of the market, followed by Android with 25 per cent, Apple with 17 per cent, RIM with 15 per cent and Windows Mobile with 2.8 per cent.
Apple was applauded for its "stellar performance" in the third quarter, and Gartner said that the iPhone maker could have sold more were it not for " ongoing supply constraints".
Apple's sales in Europe, Asia and Japan more than doubled, according to the report, and the iPhone and iPad have found favour with enterprise buyers.
Milanesi said that Apple will continue to benefit from its application ecosystem and the passionate developer industry that works with it.
"Apple's dramatic expansion of iOS with the iPad, and the continuing success of the iPod Touch, are important sales achievements in their own right," she said.
"But more importantly they contribute to the strength of Apple's ecosystem and the iPhone in a way that smartphone-only manufacturers cannot compete with. "
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