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World phone biz backs out of downturn

324m shipments in Q4 09

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World mobile phone sales were up ten per cent year on year in Q4 2009, market watcher Strategy Analytics said today. World+Dog bought 324m handsets during the quarter.

The increase in shipments markets the first period of year-on-year growth the industry has experienced since Q3 2008. Among the winners were Nokia, Samsung and LG.

Nokia shipped 126.9m handsets - an industry beating increase of 12 per cent on the year-ago quarter, and more than half of the world total.

The Finns' smartphone shipments jumped 38 per cent - important because this is the only category that has seen any significant growth in the West during the downturn. Nokia now has 39 per cent of the world smartphone market, up slightly.

Shipments of ordinary phones fared less well in Europe and North America, with all the growth comping from China. That would have helped Samsung and LG, which both shipped what was, for them, record handset numbers: 69m and 33.9m, respectively.

Samsung's global fourth-quarter market share rose from 18 per cent to 21.3 per cent, LG's from 8.7 per cent to 10.5 per cent. Their success came at the expense of Motorola and Sony Ericsson, respectively falling from 6.5 per cent to 3.7 per cent and 8.2 per cent to 4.5 per cent.

That puts Motorola a single percentage point above Apple, which took 2.7 per cent of the market in Q4, down from just under three per cent a year ago and despite a near doubling in shipments of iPhones during the quarter compared to Q4 2008. It just goes to show what an impact on the industry the exploding Chinese market has had.

But Apple still walks away for the 'highest shipment growth' prize, racking up almost 100 per cent. RIM was next, with 40 per cent growth, followed by LG (32 per cent), Samsung (31 per cent) and Nokia (12 per cent).

SA reckons Q1 2010 shipments will be up eight per cent on Q1 2009's total of 244.5m handsets. We'll have to wait and see how that gets divvied up among the leading vendors. ®

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