The fourth quarter was a record one for smartphone sales. Research firm IDC reportsthat the industry shipped 54.5 million of the devices during the period. That’s a 39 percent increase year-over-year and one that benefited most top smartphone peddlers, particularly Apple.
The company shipped 8.7 million iPhones in Q4, up from 4.4 million a year ago, for a whopping 97.7 percent in year-over-year growth. With a 14.4 percent share of the worldwide smartphone market, Apple (AAPL) is now the No. 3 maker in the world, behind Nokia (NOK) and Research in Motion (RIMM), which hold 38.9 percent and 19.8 percent of the market, respectively (see table below; click to enlarge).
But it’s becoming increasingly difficult for Nokia and RIM to maintain their leads. Though it shipped 10.7 million BlackBerrys in the fourth quarter–a nice increase from about 7.6 million–RIM’s market share for the period remained nearly flat at 19.6 percent. Meanwhile, market leader Nokia saw its share drop slightly to 38.2 percent from 40 percent in 2008, even though it shipped 20.8 million phones during the quarter, one third more than in the prior year.
So, 97.7 percent growth for smartphone upstart Apple and 37.7 percent growth for Nokia, the undisputed smartphone leader worldwide. Quite a disparity