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55 Million Smartphones Ship in First Quarter 2010

The smartphone markets around the globe continue to build upon their strong 4Q-2009 performance in the first three months of 2010. According to the latest market study by ABI Research, a little more than 55 million smartphones shipped during the quarter.

In fact that represents a drop of about one million compared to 4Q-2009, but seasonal sales cycles always produce lower results in the first quarter of any year compared to the previous quarter.

According to ABI senior analyst Michael Morgan, "Normally we would see a much greater decline in shipments in the first quarter; the fact that the drop was so relatively small highlights the continuing dynamic growth of the smartphone market."

Much of the fastest growth is being seen in markets that previously had little penetration by expensive, cutting-edge smartphones. With new less expensive models becoming available, the global smartphone market is becoming much more diverse.

An example is provided by Nokia. Its shipments rose QoQ from 20.8 million to 21.5 million despite the usual quarterly decline, building on an explosive last quarter of 2009 which saw the firm's smartphone shipments expand 25 percent.

Growth came largely on the strength of its new models -- such as the “C” and “X” lines which are really experience-focused, lower-cost smartphones that directly address those newer markets.

Nokia has a history of success in lower-cost feature phone markets, but until recently their smartphone lineup was exclusively high-end.

"These are not iPhone-killers," notes Morgan. "They're simpler, lower-end devices, not bleeding-edge top-of-the-line technologies, but they can still deliver satisfying social networking and other basic smartphone experiences."

Apple iPhone shipments also rose slightly, from 8.7 to 8.8 million, partly on the back of strong performance in markets such as Japan and China. The smartphone market as a whole was probably buoyed by improving first quarter holiday season demand from the Asia-Pacific region.

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