The growing popularity of iPhones and BlackBerry devices drove global handset sales up by 8.3% in the fourth quarter of 2009 compared with the same quarter last year, according to Gartner.
In 4Q, Gartner said smartphone sales reached 53.8 million units, up 41.1% from the same period in 2008. Total handset sales for the quarter passed 340 million units.
Full-year smartphone sales totalled 172.4 million units, a 23.8% increase from 2008, despite a 0.9% fall in total phone shipments to 1.21 billion.
“In 2009…Apple and Research In Motion (RIM) successfully captured market share from other larger device producers, controlling 14.4% and 19.9% of the worldwide smartphone market, respectively,” said Gartner.
The handset segment last year was dogged by “intense price competition” that pressured Average Selling Prices (ASPs).
“The major handset producers had to respond more aggressively in markets such as China and India to compete with white-box producers, while in mature markets they competed hard with each other for market share,” Gartner said.
It expects the “better economic environment and the changing mix of sales to stabilise ASPs in 2010.”
But it found that three of the top five mobile phone vendors –Nokia, Motorola and Sony Ericsson - experienced a decline in sales in 2009.
“The top five vendors continued to lose market share to Apple and other vendors, with their combined share dropping from 79.7% in 2008 to 75.3% in 2009.”
Samsung was the clear winner among the top five vendors, with its market share growing by 3.2 percentage points to 19.5% in 2009.
“This achievement came as a result of improved channel relationships with distributors to extend its reach and better address the needs of individual markets as well as a rich mid-tier portfolio,” Gartner said.
But the research firm believes that Nokia will “face a tough first half of 2010 as improvement to Symbian and new products based on the Meego platform will not reach the market well before the second half of 2010."