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iPhone sales help fuel worldwide smartphone numbers

There are nearly 150 million smartphones out there in the world, according to new figures. Thanks to record breaking sales figures by Apple for the iPhone 4S by the end of 2011 there was almost a 50% increase in the number of devices up on the previous year.

The research by Gartner Inc. claims the figures rose during the final quarter of 2011 thanks to the 30 million plus iPhone 4S' sold by Apple. The results led to Apple becoming the third largest vendor of mobile phones in the world. They also became the top smartphone vendor, with nearly a quarter of global sales in the fourth quarter. Over the rest of 2011, Apple took a fifth of the share of the smartphone market.

The UK and wider Western Europe along with North America were the driving forces for the figures, says Gartner. Up until the launch of the iPhone 4S sales were a little slow. Suddenly the spiked as we all ran out to buy the new device.

Worldwide, mobile device sales figures reached 476.5 million in the fourth quarter of last year. That's a 5.4% increase from the same period the previous year. In the whole of last year, people bought 1.8 billion units, that's up 11% on 2010.

The figures suggest that the mobile market will grow by just under 10% in 2012. The smartphone market is expected to slow slightly to just under 40%.

Nokia is on top worldwide with Samsung in second place, Apple in third, ZTE and LG in fourth and fifth respectively. BlackBerry maker RIM has dropped to seventh with ZTE and Huawei gaining ground. The challenge for RIM this year intensifies so a lot rests on the new BlackBerry 10 due for release later this year.

In terms of operating systems the big battle is still between Google and Apple. Android gets just over 50% of the market share in the fourth quarter of 2011 selling 75 million units. Apple is in second place in the same period, thanks to the iPhone 4S. Symbian is in third and RIM in fourth with 8.8% in the fourth quarter. Showing the work Microsoft needs to do to catch up, in the same period they were in sixth place shifting 2.7 million units and gaining 1.9% market share. That reiterates the disappointing sales figures of the Nokia Lumia 800 that was launched at the beginning of the fourth quarter of 2011 but failed to make a major impact compared to its competitors.

New WP devices are likely to be announced by Nokia at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona later this month and Microsoft are also reportedly set to announce a new OS that suits budget mobile devices. Windows Phone 8 is also set or launch later this year suggesting the firm does have growth plans for 2012.

The figures show not only do we love our mobile phones but also how much impact just one device can do. If Apple hadn't launched the iPhone 4S when it did, would we be talking about the world domination of Android and worrying about Apple's future? Possibly, but one good device and an arm of committed fans and they achieve record sales. The mobile market is cut-throat. Roll on the next twelve months when things should get much more exciting.


This is a Guest post by Simon


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