Smartphone Sales Still Growing, But Not As Fast

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Research firm Gartner has released its figures for smartphone sales in the second quarter of 2008, and the good news for the industry is that despite tough economic times the market is still continuing to grow (3.7 percent in the fourth quarter), although not as quickly as it had been. Whether the quarter was good or bad for any given manufacturer is another story: RIM, Samsung, and (to an extent) Apple all say gains, and while Finland’s Nokia remains the top global player, it saw sales slump almost 17 percent for the quarter.

“After a strong third quarter with new product introductions,” said Gartner research director Roberta Cozza, in a statement, “sequential growth slowed down again in the fourth quarter as fewer compelling new products and the worsened economic climate continued to make data plans associated with smartphones out of reach for most consumers.”

During the fourth quarter of 2008, Nokia was still way in front of the pack, selling over 15.5 million smartphones and locking down over 40 percent of the market. For most companies that status would be fantastic, except that for Nokia it represents a 16.8 percent year-on-year decline. Canada’s Research in Motion sold 7.4 million units to capture 19.5 percent of the market, a performance which represents an 84.9 percent year-on-year growth. Apple came in third, moving over 4 million units to grad 10.7 percent of the market—and thanks to the introduction of the iPhone 3G, the performance represents a 111.6 percent increase year-on-year. HTC came in fourth, moving 1.6 million units for 19.9 percent year-on-year growth—just narrowly edging out Samsung, which sold almost 1.6 million units for a solid 138 percent year-on-year growth. Samsung’s success knocked Sharp out of the top five smartphone sellers for the quarter.

For the year, 139.3 million smartphones were sold worldwide, up some 13.9 percent from 2007.