In 2010, the smartphone arena continued its shift with Apple and Android vendors grabbing a greater slice of the global market and Nokia and Research In Motion watching their shares drop, according to research firm IDC.
The year as a whole still found Nokia and BlackBerry maker RIM in first and second places, respectively, with the highest market shares and units shipped across the globe, according to IDC's latest "Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker," which was released today. But Nokia saw its annual market share fall to 33.1 percent, from 39 percent in 2009, while RIM's share dropped to 16.1 percent from almost 20 percent.
Those numbers contrasted with third-place Apple, whose share rose to 15.7 percent from 14.5 percent and shipped 47.5 million phones, up from the 25.1 million shipped in 2009.
The iPhone captured a great chunk of global smartphone customers last year, with solid growth coming from Asia/Pacific and Japan. Apple's flagship phone also found its way further entrenched in the enterprise market, IDC noted, as more businesses have added the iPhone to their list of approved smartphones. For the final quarter, Apple actually surged past RIM as the world's second leading smartphone vendor.
The biggest waves, though, were created by Google's Android as vendors Samsung and HTC rounded out the top five list of global mobile smartphone vendors. Shipping 23 million smartphones last year compared with 5.5 million in 2009, Samsung's market share climbed to 7.6 percent from 3.2 percent. And with 21.5 million units shipped last year versus only 8.1 million the prior year, HTC saw its share jump to 7.1 percent from 4.7 percent.
"Android continues to gain by leaps and bounds, helping to drive the smartphone market," Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC's Mobile Phone Technology and Trends team, said in a statement. "It has become the cornerstone of multiple vendors' smartphone strategies, and has quickly become a challenger to market leader Symbian. Although Symbian has the backing of market leader Nokia, Android has multiple vendors, including HTC, LG Electronics, Motorola, Samsung and a growing list of companies deploying Android on their devices."
Despite the ups and downs of individual smartphone vendors, the overall industry boomed during 2010 and the quarter that ended it.
The year as a whole saw 302.6 million smartphones shipped, a gain of 74 percent from the 173.5 million shipped in 2009. The fourth quarter alone accounted for 100.9 million smartphones shipped, up 87.2 percent from the 53.9 million shipped in the prior year's final quarter.
Looking at 2011, IDC is eyeing further gains for the smartphone industry as vendors continue to expand their product lineups. Though the high-end smartphone market has helped drive growth over the past few years, more mid-range and low-end models are expected to hit the market. That will make smartphones in general more affordable by pushing down prices on higher-end units and ramping up overall competition in the industry.