Smartphones surge globally in Q3, despite recession

Third-quarter shipments are a record at 43.3 million, IDC says

Smartphone shipments were up 4.2% globally in the third quarter and reached a record total for a quarter despite the poor economy, market research firm IDC said today.

Smartphone vendors shipped 43.3 million smartphones, such as the iPhone, in the third quarter, up 4.2% over the 41.5 million shipped in third quarter of 2008, IDC said.

IDC analyst Ramon Llamas said the demand in the third quarter was strong, as it has been all year, noting that smartphones offer entertainment and a variety of functions that aren't available in traditional mobile phones.

"As users expect greater functionality from their devices beyond telephony, we believe the [smartphone] market will continue to grow faster than the overall mobile phone market," Llamas said in a statement.

IDC analyst Will Stofega added that the Android operating system, which runs on devices from several manufacturers with more to come, has added to interest in smartphones. He said he expects Android to pose a "serious challenge" to incumbent smartphones such as iPhones, Blackberries and those running Windows Mobile.

Even though the iPhone gets most of the attention in the U.S., with more than 40 million units sold globally in more than two years, Nokia is still the global leader in smartphone shipments, IDC noted. The phone manufacturer's flagship product is the N97, but it also has announced the N900, which runs the Maemo mobile Linux operating system .

Nokia saw a 6.6% growth in smartphone shipments, to 16.4 million, in the third quarter, compared with 15.4 million in the same quarter of 2008. That gave Nokia nearly 38% of the smartphone market.

Research in Motion, maker of several popular BlackBerry devices, was second, with 19% of the market in the quarter, having shipped 36% more smartphones in the third quarter, for a total of 8.2 million, IDC said.

Apple shipped 7.4 million devices, up 7% over the third quarter of 2008, giving it third place in smartphone shipments, or 17% of the market.

IDC did not compile the total for all Android or Windows Mobile devices, which run over a variety of devices.

As for the other device makers: HTC finished fourth with 5.6% of the shipments, or 2.4 million shipped. Samsung was fifth, with 3.5% of the market or 1.5 million shipped. All others totaled nearly 17% of the market, with 7.3 million shipped.

In addition to being the most shipments for a single quarter, the third quarter total of 43.3 million was up 3.2% from the 41.9 million shipped in the second quarter of 2009, IDC added.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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