Most smartphones now have touchscreens, research finds

Brad Reed
11 February, 2010
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Several market research outfits released a bevy of interesting smartphone data this week, highlighted by the Canalys research group’s finding that a majority of smartphones being shipped now have touchscreens.

According to Canalys’ latest report, touchscreen phones accounted for 55 percent of the 54.5 million smartphone units that shipped in the fourth quarter. Touchscreen smartphone shipments for all of 2009 totaled 75 million, or 45 percent of the 166 million smartphones shipped throughout the year.

Canalys found that Apple is still the market leader in touchscreen smartphone shipments with around 25 million units shipped worldwide. However, Nokia is climbing fast in the smartphone market, as its total shipments exploded from just over 500,000 in 2008 to 22.4 million units shipped in 2009. Nokia hit the market in a big way this year by releasing several touchscreen devices, including the N97 and the N900. HTC and Samsung rounded out the top four touchscreen smartphone vendors, as those two companies shipped 7.7 million and 4.8 million units in 2009, respectively.

In terms of overall smartphone operating systems, Canalys found that Symbian remained the runaway leader, as the open source operating system was installed in 78.5 million smartphones that shipped in 2009, or roughly 47 percent of total smartphone shipments. Research in Motion came in second place with 34.5 million smartphones, while Apple finished in third with 25 million. Although Google’s Android operating system came in a distant fifth place in the Canalys rankings, it also grew the fastest of any other operating systems as its 7.8 million smartphone shipments represented a 12-fold increase from the 660,000 smartphones that shipped with Android in 2008.

RIM still tops in U.S. smartphone market. But while touchscreen phones have become all the rage, RIM is still finding success with its trackball-enabled BlackBerry Curve series. According to the latest figures released by IDC, the Curve bested both the Apple iPhone 3GS and the iPhone 3G in the fourth quarter. The iPhone 3GS and 3G were respectively the second- and fourth-highest selling smartphones in the quarter, with Motorola’s Android-based Droid smartphone coming in third. From there, RIM dominated smartphone sales as the BlackBerry Pearl (fifth), Bold (sixth), Storm (seventh) and Tour (ninth) all cracked the top 10 smartphones for the quarter.

Research group comScore, meanwhile, found that RIM maintained its lead in U.S. smartphone operating system market share as the company’s operating system was installed in 41.6 percent of all smartphones sold in the United States in the fourth quarter. Apple’s iPhone operating system had the second-highest smartphone market share in the United States with 25.3 percent, while all Windows Mobile-based devices accounted for 18 percent of all smartphones bought in the United States.

Although RIM’s BlackBerry devices dominated the smartphone market, they still represented just a tiny fraction of all mobile devices sold in the United States. According to comScore, RIM devices accounted for a mere 6.4 percent of mobile devices sold in the United States in the fourth quarter. Motorola (24.9 percent of all mobile devices sold), LG (21.7 percent of all devices sold) and Samsung (20.4 percent of all mobile devices sold) easily eclipsed RIM as the three best-selling mobile device manufacturers in the United States in Q4.

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