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Apple iPhone tops 2009 smartphone sales

The advantage of a one-product range

Apple iPhone 3G S

The iPhone was almost certainly 2009's top-selling smartphone after racking up world shipments of 24.89m units.

The figure comes from market watcher Gartner, but the conclusion is ours. Gartner revealed the figure today as the iPhone OS' share of the world smartphone market.

To put the number into context, Research in Motion' BlackBerry OS was used by 34.35m smartphones in 2009, but even that was as nothing to the 80.88m smartphones that shipped globally with the Symbian OS on board.

Those figures put Symbian's 2009 market share at 46.9 per cent, RIM's at 19.9 per cent and Apple's at 14.4 per cent. Moving down the list, we next encounter Windows Mobile (8.7 per cent), Linux (4.7 per cent), Android (3.9 per cent) and Palm's WebOS (0.7 per cent).

It's interesting that Linux and Android are listed separately, since Android is based on Linux. They are separate presumably because Android is perceived as an OS in its own right, but were their totals combined, Linux would have a larger smartphone market share almost as big as Microsoft's.

But back to the iPhone. While Apple's market share and shipment numbers are lower than both RIM and Symbian, it only makes one smartphone. RIM sells more than a dozen different models, and the number of smartphones that incorporate Symbian is even greater still.

So that's 24.89m iPhones sold, but not, say, 34.35m BlackBerry 9700s. Each Symbian phone's share of the total shipment figure - and each BlackBerry model's share of RIM's shipments, for that matter - may exceed the average for their respective OS, but we'd bet that no single model from either camp exceeds that 24.89m figure for the number of iPhones shipped.

Yes, Apple sells the iPhone 3G and the 3GS, but they're essentially the same thing, differing solely on chip speed and storage capacity. They don't differ the way the BlackBerry Bold, Curve, Storm 2 and Pearl do, for instance.

Let Apple enjoy its 'victory' - its 24.89m shipments were as nothing to the 440.88m phones of all types that Nokia shipped in 2009. Or the 235.77m Samsung sent out, the 122.06m from LG, the 58.48m from Motorola, or even the 54.87m handsets that Sony Ericsson had manufactured.

In all, 1.211 billion phones shipped in 2009, down from 1.222 billion in 2008, according to Gartner. Apple shipped a mere 2.1 per cent of them. ®

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