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Google Android, RIM Lead Big Smartphone Sale Gains In Q1

Android phones now account for 9.6 percent of smartphone sales worldwide.

That was the word from Gartner, which on Wednesday reported that RIM cracked the top five mobile device manufacturers by worldwide market share for the first time, and that momentum for Android -- and Apple -- has continued as well. Apple increased its worldwide market share by 1.2 percent from last quarter, according to Gartner, and sales of Android-based phones were up by 707 percent from the first quarter of 2009.

Overall worldwide sales of mobile phones in the first quarter were 314.7 million units, Gartner noted, and smartphones accounted for 17.3 percent of those sales, up from 13.6 percent smartphone sales in the first quarter of 2009.

"In the first quarter of 2010, smartphone sales to end users saw their strongest year-on-year increase since 2006," said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner, in a statement. Smartphones grew in double digits, she noted, spurring growth especially in mature markets thanks to the wider availability of cheaper phones.

Gartner's report also noted that the world's top five mobile handset manufacturers saw their combined market share drop from 73.3 percent a year ago to 70.7 percent in the first quarter of 2010 -- a sign, Gartner noted, that new players are in the game, especially in Asia, and are starting to make progress.

Among mobile phone makers, Nokia is still the leader in worldwide market share, claiming 35 percent by Gartner's estimates. Samsung is second, at 20.6 percent, followed by LG (8.6 percent), RIM (3.4 percent) and Sony Ericsson (3.1 percent). Motorola, Apple, ZTE, G-Five and Huawei round out the top 10. Nokia, LG and Sony Ericsson all lost share percentage points from last year, while Samsung gained 1.5 percent, RIM gained 0.7 percent and Apple gained 1.2 percent. The biggest share percentage gainer was G-Five, which cracked the top 10 for the first time, Gartner noted.

Among smartphone operating systems, Nokia's Symbian is tops at a 44.3 percent market share of smartphones sold, although that's down from its 48.8 percent market share in the first quarter of 2009. RIM's OS market share is also down, to 19.4 percent in this year's Q1 from last year's 20.6 percent. Apple, at the number three spot with the iPhone OS, has a 15.4 percent market share, up from 10.5 percent last year. And Android -- the biggest gainer on the list -- holds the number four spot with a 9.6 percent share, up from 1.6 percent a year ago.

Microsoft Windows Mobile, which declined to 6.8 percent share from 10.2 percent last year, is the number five spot, and Linux and a collective category for "other OSes" round out the list.

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