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February 6, 2012

Worldwide smartphone market grew 54.7% in Q4: IDC

Smartphones shipments grew by 61% in 2011 compared to 2010

By CBR Staff Writer

The worldwide smartphone market grew 54.7% year over year in the fourth quarter of 2011, as vendors shipped 157.8 million units in the quarter compared to 102.0 million units in the corresponding quarter of 2010, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker.

This growth was higher than IDC’s forecast of 40.0% for the quarter, and higher than the 49.2% growth in 3Q11, the report said.

Vendors have shipped 491.4 million smartphones throughout 2011, up a strong 61.3% from the 304.7 million units in 2010. However, this growth was still below 2010’s year-over-year growth of 75.7%.

IDC Mobile Phone Technology and Trends team senior research analyst Ramon Llamas said by the end of the quarter, one out of every three mobiles phones shipped worldwide was a smartphone.

"The launch of Apple’s iPhone 4S played a key role in smartphone growth to capture pent-up demand, and smartphone launches from other vendors also provided a broad selection to meet varying preferences and budgets," Llamas added.

IDC Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker program senior research analyst Kevin Restivo said so-called ‘hero’ devices, such as Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus and Apple’s iPhone 4S, garner the bulk of the attention heaped on the device type.

"But a growing number of sub-$250 device offerings, based on the Android operating system, have allowed Google’s hardware partners to grow smartphone volumes and expand the market concurrently," Restivo said.

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Apple led the samrtphone market with the launch of its iPhone 4S worldwide, followed by Samsung which broke the 30 million units mark for the first time buoyed by expansion of its series of Galaxy smartphones with attention to both the high-end and mass market phones.

Nokia stood at the third position with the largest year-over-year decline among the top vendors, but its smartphone strategy took another step forward with the release of its first Windows Phone smartphones, the Lumia 710 and the Lumia 800, IDC said.

Research In Motion (RIM) finished the quarter with a mixed bag of results, while HTC maintained a strong pace of device releases during the quarter, with the launch of the Windows Phone-powered Titan and Radar models, the Beats-influenced Rezound, and the LTE-enabled Vivid in addition to multiple other Android-powered smartphones.

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