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Android smartphone sales leap to second place in 2010, Gartner says

Nokia declines but is still on top, though big changes are expected there

February 9, 2011 10:09 AM ET

Computerworld - Android in 2010 became the second best selling smartphone operating system after Symbian from Nokia, Gartner reported Wednesday.

Android sales grew by nearly 900% from 2009 and clearly outdistanced third place BlackBerry and Apple's iOS, which was close behind in fourth, Gartner said.

IDC and Canalys recently reported similar 2010 smartphone market results.

Strong fourth quarter sales gave a key boost to Android, which is used in a number of broadly available more expensive smartphones, Gartner reported. Those models include the HTC Desire, Incredible and Evo, the Samsung Galaxy S line and the Motorola Droid X and Droid 2.

For all of 2010, Gartner said 111.5 million Symbian-based smartphones were sold, accounting for 37.6% share of the market. Symbian sales grew from 80.8 million phones a year earlier, but the Nokia OS had a much larger share of the market in 2009 -- 46.9%.

Gartner said that 67.2 million Android-based units were sold in 2010, accounting for 22.7% of the market. A year earlier, 6.7 million Android-based phones were sold, for a market share of just 3.9%. The report said some 47.4 million RIM BlackBerry devices were sold in 2010, giving the OS 16% of the market. Apple iOS held 15.7% of the market last year with 46.6 million units sold.

Microsoft Windows Mobile and Windows Phone was fifth at 4.2% of the market, or 12.3 million smartphones sold.

Almost 297 million smartphones were sold globally in 2010, up from 172.3 in 2009. About 1.6 billion mobile phones of all types, including smartphones, were sold in 2010, Gartner added.

In the larger mobile phone market, Nokia led the way globally by selling 461 million and holding 28.9 % of the market. Nokia does poorly in North America, as noted in a recent ComScore survey that found that the company had only 7% of U.S. smartphone subscribers in 2010, compared to more than 33% worldwide.

Noting that Nokia lacks high-end devices and saw 2010 declines in smartphone and mobile phone market share, Gartner said in a statement: "Nokia's future rests on the announcements it will make on Feb. 11 and how well the company can executive on those plans in the limited time available."

Various reports have indicated that new leadership at Nokia could abandon Symbian and possibly adopt the Windows Phone platform. Behind Nokia as the leading mobile phone maker globally was Samsung with a 17% share of the market, LG Electronics with 7%, RIM with 3%, Apple with 2.9%, Sony Ericsson with 2.6%, Motorola with 2.4%, ZTE with 1.8%; HTC with 1.5% and Huawei with 1.5%.

A group of even smaller makers accounted for 30.6% of the market or nearly 489 million mobile phones, Gartner said.

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

Read more about Smartphones in Computerworld's Smartphones Topic Center.



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