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Smartphones Gain in the World Market

Thu Jun 12, 2008 - 6:59 AM EDT - By Jay Gross


No question about it. Phones in general are getting smarter. That is, more of them are smartphones from the outset. Moreover, an increasing percentage of them come from a certain California fruit company.

According to a report just issued by Gartner, a research firm, North American smartphone sales totaled 7.3 million units in the first quarter of 2008, up 106.2 percent year-over-year. Wow. I feel sad that I didn’t do my part – no smartphone purchases for me since last fall.

Worldwide, the firm counted 32.2 million smartphones sold in the first quarter of 2008, an increase of 29.3 percent over the year-ago quarter. Says the research firm:

“Despite economic concerns, the smartphone market continued to expand in the United States, driven by heavy advertising and strong marketing promotions as more devices reached mass market price points,” said Hugues De La Vergne, principal analyst for mobile terminals research at Gartner, based in Dallas. “North American operators are giving these devices strong support, as they provide higher average revenue per unit (ARPU). We expect operators to continue to make these devices the focus of 2008 promotions.”

Gartner predicts that touchscreens, usability and application integration will continue to drive smartphone growth, “especially as vendors and operators expand their portfolios to include open-platform devices.” The full report costs money, but if you’re inclined to pay, here’s a link. The free summary from which I prepared this article is available from the public section of Gartner’s website.

Gartner’s report said RIM's sales volume focused on its BlackBerry Curve and Pearl models. In the U.S. market, RIM stayed on top, its share totaling 42 percent.

With 5.3 percent of the global smartphone market - incredible, considering it’s only been out for a year – Apple’s iPhone came in third worldwide – and not for very much longer, if the company’s predictions pan out about the new 3G iPhone. Apple now ranks second in the U.S. market, with a 20 percent share. The company sold 1.72 million iPhones in the quarter.

Palm, our beloved little ol’ Palm that once owned the smartphone business, is now relegated to the “other” category on Gartner’s vendor breakdown, beyond even Sharp and Fujitsu, each of which commands a 4.1-perent world market share. I still love my (red!) Centro, and treasure my Treos, but does Palm headquarters have a percolator? ‘Cause somebody over there needs to wake up and drink some coffee. And soon. Espresso!

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