According to analysts at ABI Research, 25% more smartphones shipped in the fourth quarter of 2009 than the previous quarter, reversing a trend of lackluster growth for most of the year.
Apple had its best smartphone quarter on record, shipping 7.4 million iPhones, according to Apple’s earnings report. Nokia, the worldwide leader in smartphone sales, shipped 21 million units, up from an average of 15-16 million. ABI also noted strong numbers from BlackBerry.
This research company claimed that while fourth quarter shipments typically outshine third quarter numbers, the 25% number was still “remarkable.”
“Granted, the fourth quarter is usually better than the third, but 3Q saw only a 3.6% growth over the second quarter. The robust strength of this market’s recovery is very encouraging indeed.” said ABI analyst Michael Morgan.
The introduction of entry-level smartphones and falling prices helped drive sales. Other contributing factors include the iPhone, which still maintained what ABI referred to as its “cool factor,” the over-achieving BlackBerry Curve, which outsold the iPhone in some markets, and an expansion into Western Europe and East Asia by by both Apple and RIM. iPhone sales in the Asia Pacific region increased about 500% year over year in 2009.
North America led all regions in smartphone market growth at 30%, buoyed by mobile operator subsidies. Asia Pacific and Western Europe were behind.
Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America posted more than 20% growth, but overall device numbers were still low due to the regions’ developing economies.