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Nokia retains top spot in smartphone market

The Finnish manufacturer claims the biggest smartphone market share in 2008, but rivals are gaining ground on it with their high-profile handsets, according to Gartner.

Finnish manufacturer Nokia shipped the most smartphones in 2008, but its worldwide market share continues to decrease as rivals roll out popular, high-profile handsets, according to Gartner. It also said Apple and Research In Motion commanded some of the biggest year-over-year gains at Nokia's expense, with HTC showing a healthy increase as well.

According to the research firm, Nokia sold 60.9 million smartphones last year for a total market share of 43.7 percent. That's more than double the market share of its closest competitor, Research In Motion, which commanded 16.6 percent.

But even as Nokia continues to claim the biggest piece of cell phone pie, its outlook is mixed. From 2007, Nokia's smartphone sales grew by just 0.8 percent, and its market share dropped from 49.4 percent. While Gartner predicts that the company's low-end smartphones will continue to remain competitive, its higher-end N series handsets are facing stiff competition.

Thanks to devices like the BlackBerry Bold and the BlackBerry Storm, RIM's market share went from 9.6 percent in 2007 to 16.6 percent in 2008. It also boosted overall sales by 96.7 percent.

Apple posted even better growth with the worldwide introduction of the iPhone 3G. Its marker share rose from 2.7 percent in 2007 to 8.2 percent in 2008, while its overall sales increased by 245.7 percent (3.3 million devices sold in 2007 vs. 11.1 million sold in 2008).

HTC, which introduced the T-Mobile G1 and the HTC Touch Diamond in 2008, also finished the year off well. The Taiwan-based manufacturer boosted handset sales by 58.4 percent. What's more, its worldwide market share climbed from 3 percent in 2007 to 4.2 percent in 2008.

Samsung was not listed separately in the 2008 year-end list, but thanks to touch-screen handsets like the Samsung Omnia it posted a market share in the fourth quarter of 2008 of 4.2 percent, which was up from 1.8 percent during the same period in 2007.