Worldwide shipments of mobile phones grew 21.7% in the first quarter, turbo-charged by the booming demand for smartphones, according to market research reports released Friday.
Research In Motion, which has always been strong in the smartphone category, rode the category to break into IDC's top-five market share finishers for the first time. RIM knocked Motorola from the top five list. IDC's Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker reported that 294.9 million mobile phone handsets were shipped in the first quarter.
Also on Friday, market researcher Strategy Analytics reported that smartphone shipments jumped 50% during the quarter as Apple's iPhone shipments doubled, RIM held onto its 20% smartphone market share, and Nokia recorded its fastest growth rates in three years, helped by improved features like qwerty keyboards and touchscreens on Nokia mobile phones.
IDC noted that the popularity of RIM's BlackBerry smartphones helped the Canadian company move into the top-five market share rankings.
Nokia held onto its first place in the IDC rankings with a 36.6% market share, but that figure was down from last year's 38.4% share. Samsung showed the best growth among the leaders with a 21.8% market share -- up from last year's 18.9% figure. Others in the top five were LG with 9.2% market share; RIM, 3.6%; and Sony Ericsson, 3.6%.
"That the mobile phone market has rebounded by double digits year over year in a post-holiday quarter is definitely good news for the industry," said IDC senior research analyst Ramon Llamas in a statement. "Whereas last year we saw much uncertainty around demand and overall reluctance to introduce new devices, vendors have been very vocal about their intentions this year, with some even launching new devices in the first quarter of 2010. In addition, the continued emphasis on converged mobile devices points to greater revenue generation and profitability."
In contrast to recent years, no U.S. firm made the top five rankings. Although Motorola, which practically invented the cell phone and dominated the business for years, was missing from the top five rankings, the company has been staging a comeback of sorts with its Droid handset.
Apple's iPhone and Google's Android platform handsets are also surging in the smartphone market.