Smartphones grow by 90% in third quarter, IDC says

Samsung's growth was 453% with Galaxy phones and others

The global smartphone market grew nearly 90% in the third quarter, with enormous gains by Samsung and HTC, market research firm IDC reported Thursday.

Vendors shipped 81 million smartphones, up 89.5% from the 42.8 million units shipped in the third quarter of 2009. For the first three quarters, vendors shipped 200.6 million smartphones, an increase of 67% over the 119.6 million shipped for the first three quarters of 2009.

The smartphone market is over six times the size of the overall mobile phone market, as customers seek browsing and multimedia functions on their mobile devices and as carriers expand the range of smartphone brands, IDC said.

"Smartphone makers have the wind behind their sales," said Kevin Restivo, an IDC analyst. He said the transition to smartphones appears to be proceeding unabated.

Nokia still leads the pack, with a 32.7% share of the market and 26.5 million smartphones shipped in the third quarter. Even with 61.6% year-over-year growth, Nokia's market share is shrinking amid new competition.Nokia launched the C7 and its first Symbian 3 device, the N8, and has plans for a device using the MeeGo operating system in 2011.

Apple's iPhone boosted its rank to second place, with a 17.4% market share and 14.1 million phones shipped, a 90% increase from the prior year. A well-publicized problem with the iPhone 4 antenna didn't dampen demand, since the company swiftly fixed the problem, IDC said.

BlackBerry maker Research In Motion was third, with a 15.3% share and 12.4 million smartphones shipped, an increase of 45.9%. The number of shipments reached a record high, but RIM still fell from second place amid the competition. Most notably, RIM released a BlackBerry 6.0 operating system on the BlackBerry Torch 9800 with both a touch screen and a physical keyboard.

Samsung came in fourth but posted the highest growth compared with a year ago, of 453.8%, with 7.2 million smartphones shipped. It launched the Galaxy S smartphone line, running Android, and will be one of he first to release a Windows Phone 7 device.

HTC was in fifth place, with 176% growth and 5.8 million units shipped. It also sells Android smartphones globally and plans to ship five different WP7 phones this quarter.

Android-based phones outsold iPhones in the U.S. by nearly 2-to-1 in the third quarter, NPD Group reported earlier this week.

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

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