Global smartphone shipments grew by 75 percent to 94 million in the final three months of last year compared to the same period in 2009, according to research firm Strategy Analytics. Smartphones made up 24 percent of all handsets shipped in Q4 2010, it said. The total handset market in Q4 rose 16 percent to 400 million units. Market leader Nokia shipped 123.7 million handsets, with a 3 percent year-on-year decline. Its market share also slipped but ASP jumped 7 percent  during the period, thanks to “an increased mix of smartphones and favourable exchange rates”, says the firm. 

 In the smartphone market, Nokia saw a 36 percent increase in Q4 sales to 28.3 million, the same growth rate as third-placed RIM. The latter grew its sales to 14.6 million devices. RIM lost its second spot in smartphones to Apple in Q3 2010, according to the research firm. Apple’s sales in Q4 2010 were 16.2 million, a near doubling from 8.7 million in the same period in 2009.  But even Apple’s growth has its limits. Its year-on-year quarterly market share has grown sluggishly from 16.1 percent to 17.2 percent in Q4 2010, and actually dipped lower during some intervening quarters. The reason is the rise of Android-based handsets from a number of vendors, including Samsung, HTC, Motorola and LG. They are a big part of the “Others” section in Strategy Analytics’ figures, which has grown from 25.4 percent of all shipments in Q4 2009 to 37.2 percent in Q4 2010.

For the full year, smartphone shipments reached 293 million units, a 67 percent increase from 175 million in 2009, Strategy Analytics said. During 2010, the influence of the top three vendors – Nokia, RIM and Apple – has waned. Their collective market share slipped to 67 percent from 73 percent the previous year, again due to Android, it notes. The competition between Android vendors and Apple will be tough in 2011 too: “The CDMA version of the iPhone will soon go live at Verizon Wireless in the US and provide fresh competition for Samsung, LG, Motorola, HTC and others”. The firm also says IPR payments will remain a major topic in 2011.  “The industry will want to take a closer look at how much Apple may be paying to license or cross-license mobile IP from other firms,” it says.