New handset sales data from Gartner reveals that smartphones continued to outperform the overall mobile devices market in 2Q09, and were a key factor in consumers upgrading devices. According to Gartner figures, worldwide mobile phone sales totalled 286.1 million units in Q209, a 6.1 percent decline over the year earlier quarter, but smartphone sales rose 27 percent over the same period, surpassing 40 million units for the first time (40.96 million). “[The smartphone market] is the fastest-growing market segment and the most resistant to declining ASPs,” said Carolina Milanesi, research director at Gartner. Apple saw the largest rise in its share of the global smartphone market in 2Q09, rising from a 2.8 percent share in 2Q08 to 13.3 percent. Gartner notes that sales of 5.4 million iPhones units in the quarter represented a 51 percent growth in shipments and helped Apple maintain the number three position in the smartphone market, which it has held since 3Q08. Nokia continued to lead the smartphone market but saw its share decline from 47.4 percent to 45 percent despite an uplift in unit sales.

In the smartphone operating system (OS) market, Gartner said that Nokia’s Symbian held a dominant 51 percent share, down from 57 percent a year ago, while RIM and Apple grew their shares year-on-year. It noted that Google’s Android platform, which accounted for just under 2 percent of the market in 2Q09, will intensify competition in the smartphone platform market when further Android-based devices come to market later this year, which could put pressure on Symbian and Microsoft’s Windows Mobile. Microsoft’s share continued to drop year-on-year to account for 9 percent of the market in 2Q09. The quarter also saw the debut of the Palm Pre, which runs on Palm’s new operating system (‘WebOS’) and was exclusively launched by US operator Sprint in June. “This device attracted a lot of media attention but showed mixed results at the cash register as sales only reached 205,000 units,” said Roberta Cozza, principal analyst at Gartner. “Palm currently ranks tenth in the smartphone market and Gartner remains concerned about its ability to gain traction outside the US market, where its brand is less strong.”