A new report by analyst frim Canalys has found that the majority of smartphones sold worldwide now use a touch-screen interface rather than a keypad.
The report found that 55 per cent of smartphones sold in the last quarter of 2009 were touch-screens. Sales of phones using the interface rose by 138 per cent in 2009, compared to overall smartphone market growth of 41 per cent.
Apple was the leading vendor with 33 per cent of the market, but lost market share to Nokia, which increased touch-screen sales by a whopping 4,000 per cent in 2009 to grab a 29 per cent market share.
"Looking at the whole of 2009, it is no great surprise to see Apple at the top of the table of leading vendors of touch-screen smartphones," said Canalys analyst Tim Shepherd.
"But Nokia stands out as a very close second, seeing tremendous growth thanks to models such as the Nokia 5800 and N97. And Nokia was actually the leading vendor by volume of touch-screen smartphones in the final quarter of the year."
Research of 4,000 buyers by Canalys shows that 60 per cent expect to get a touch-screen model as their next phone. The research found that easy access and use of new applications are key to the buying decision.
"This is an area where Apple is still in an enviable leadership position, having built up a vast, easy-to-access library of content and applications that will continue to drive the success of not only the iPhone, but the other devices it launches, such as the iPad," said Chris Jones, vice president and principal analyst at Canalys.
"For vendors with similar aspirations, attracting developers to their chosen smartphone platforms is an ongoing challenge, especially as more platforms and application stores launch onto the market.
"Developer bandwidth is as big an issue for this industry as network bandwidth. And if you get it right, you have a much more effective lock-in when that user comes to replace their device. It is not just about building new revenue streams."
Overallm 166 million smartphones were sold in 2009, according to the report. Symbian is the most popular operating system with 47 per cent of the market, but RIM and Apple are both showing strong growth.
The biggest loser of last year was Microsoft, which saw its share of the global smartphone market drop by more than 26 per cent in 2009.
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