Global Market for Smartphones up 43%, Samsung and Apple See Strong Growth

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Consumer interest in smartphones continued to grow at a strong pace in the first quarter of this year, up 43% year-over-year, according to market-research firm IDC. Essentially all this growth came from just two companies however.

Samsung saw its shipments increase by 267% YOY, while Apple’s shipments increased 89%. The other companies in the top 5 list all saw declines in the number of smartphones shipped in Q1. In recent months, these two have come to dominate the world market for advanced handsets, making up 53% of all shipments, and in the first three months of this year were the only profitable makers of this type of device.

“The race between Apple and Samsung remained tight during the quarter, even as both companies posted growth in key areas,” said Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC’s Mobile Phone Technology and Trends program. “Apple launched its popular iPhone 4S in additional key markets, most notably in China, and Samsung experienced continued success from its Galaxy Note smartphone/tablet and other Galaxy smartphones.”

Nokia, BlackBerry, HTC All Down

Nokia is not finding the process of switching from the Symbian OS to Windows Phone an easy one. Its shipments in Q1 declined 51% when compared to the same quarter of 2011. The company’s share of the global market went from 24% to 8% in one year.

Research In Motion’s BlackBerry shipments were down 30% last quarter, back to levels about where the company was in 2009. Its share of the smartphone market declined from 14% to 7%. IDC points out that, like Nokia, RIM is in the midst of a major transition — in this case, it’s moving to a new operating system called BlackBerry 10, which will be released later this year.

HTC has been struggling in the U.S. market in the past six months, and this has had a negative effect on its overall performance — its share of the global market dropped from 9% to 5% in Q1. Still, its relatively strong performance in the Asia/Pacific region allowed the company to maintain its position among the top 5 smartphone vendors.

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