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Smartphone Sales Grew 16% In 2Q

Nokia and Symbian remain the market leaders, but RIM is rapidly gaining, according to Gartner.

Mobile users around the globe are increasingly purchasing smartphones but the economic slowdown may affect adoption rate, according to new data from Gartner.

The report, "Market Share: Smartphones, Worldwide, 2008," said 32.2 million smartphones were sold in the second quarter of 2008, a 15.7% increase from the year before.

But the second quarter couldn't escape growing concerns over the economy, and Gartner said the sales increase was at a lower rate than in 2007.

"The current economic environment continues to negatively impact the market, limiting consumer spending and replacement purchases in general," said Roberta Cozza, principal analyst at Gartner, in a statement. "In addition, smartphone sales slowed down as a result of new compelling touch technology mainly available on enhanced phones rather than smartphones."

Gartner was still optimistic about the growth rate of smartphones for the rest of the year, and pointed to the global introduction of the iPhone 3G as a major driver.

Overall, Nokia remained the worldwide leader in smartphone sales, with 47.5% of the market. But the company saw weak year-over-year growth as competition in the consumer smartphone market heated up.

"To stay competitive, Nokia will need to introduce more design variations amongst its N series models and keep innovating," said Cozza. "The expected introduction of a touch-screen smartphone in the second half of 2008 will test the company's capability to show differentiation and innovation."

Research In Motion had a strong quarter, capturing 17.4% of the market. The company's handset sales were up 126% year-over-year, mainly due the success of consumer-friendly handsets like the BlackBerry Curve and Pearl.

Gartner said RIM is well-positioned for the rest of the year because it has handsets coming out in a variety of form factors. These include the business-centric BlackBerry Bold, a touch-screen device, and a consumer-friendly clamshell handset.

High Tech Computers also had a successful quarter, capturing third place with 4.1% of the market. The company was able to double its market share from the same period in 2007 thanks to strong sales of its Touch line.

Apple's share of end users decreased to 2.8% from 5.3% in the first quarter because Gartner said it had to "clean the channel of first-generation iPhone units before the arrival of the iPhone 3G in June." But the research firm expects iPhone sales to grow significantly in the second half of the year, and its sales will be buoyed by its availability in new markets.

In terms of operating system, Gartner said the Symbian OS remained the market leader with 57.1% of the market, but this was a decline from last year, when it held a dominant 65.6% share. Gartner attributed this to a drop in unit sales in Japan, and the more competitive and fragmented mobile operating system market overall.

Research In Motion's operating system was in second place with 17.4% and it was followed, in order, by Windows Mobile, Linux mobile, and the iPhone's Mac OS X.

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