Smartphone shipments appear to be picking up steam as the economy mends. According to a report from Strategy Analytics, the global smartphone shipments grew 50 percent year-over-year to reach 54 million units in the first quarter of 2010. Strategy Analytics says this was the strongest period of growth for almost three years and that smartphones continue to lead the handset industry out of recession.
“Sales are being driven by healthy operator subsidies, vigorous competition between vendors, and a growing tide of lower-cost models using operating software like Symbian and Android,” said Tom Kang, director at Strategy Analytics.
The report shows Nokia shipped a record 21.5 million smartphones worldwide in the first quarter, rising an above-average 57 percent from 13.7 million units a year earlier. Strategy Analytics concludes that China, South America and Africa/Middle East were regional hotspots for Nokia, while North America remains a problem child and one that is crimping profits and still badly needs attention.
Research In Motion (RIM) also had a good first quarter, shipping 10.6 million smartphones worldwide, comfortably beating Apple’s record 8.8 million units during the quarter. RIM has become the largest mobile device vendor of North American origin, ahead of rivals Apple and Motorola. However, RIM’s annual growth rate slowed to just 45 percent in the first quarter. Strategy Analytics says that RIM's new BlackBerry OS 6.0 upgrade due out this fall is badly needed.
“The global smartphone market will head in two broad directions this year. Some smartphone vendors, such as Nokia, will chase growing mid-tier volumes in emerging markets such as China and India. Other brands, such as Motorola, will focus on mature markets like the U.S. and will explore a new wave of services beyond Internet browsing and e-mail, such as high-quality video and navigation,” Neil Mawston, director at Strategy Analytics, concludes.