Study: Android, iPhone fastest-growing smartphone platforms

The iPhone OS has overtaken Windows Mobile, moving into third place behind Symbian and BlackBerry, says a Gartner study

Android and Apple's iPhone OS were the fastest-growing smartphone platforms in 2009, with sales of the iPhone OS overtaking those of Windows Mobile, research company Gartner said Tuesday. Symbian and Research In Motion's BlackBerry still lead the market, it said.

Worldwide sales of smartphones running Symbian totaled 80.9 million in 2009, up from 72.9 million a year earlier. Because total smartphone sales grew faster, to 172.4 million from 139.3 million a year earlier, Symbian's market share declined to 46.9 percent, Gartner said. Second-place RIM's market share rose to 19.9 percent from 16.6 percent in 2008.

Apple's smartphone OS took third place. Apple sold 24.9 million iPhones in 2009, compared to 11.4 million in 2008, taking its share of the market to 14.4 percent.

Microsoft's smartphone OS dropped to the fourth spot as its market share fell from 11.8 percent to 8.7 percent, and sales dropped by about 1.5 million phones. The launch of a new version, Windows Phones 7 Series, appears to make it a more competitive platform, but as phones based on the rewritten OS won't show up until late this year, sales will continue to struggle during most of 2010, according to Roberta Cozza, principal research analyst at Gartner.

Linux -- in which Gartner includes LiMo, but excludes Android -- also continues to struggle in the smartphone market. Its share dropped from 7.6 percent to 4.7 percent in 2009.

Android was only the sixth largest smartphone platform in 2009, with a market share of 3.9 percent. However, that looks likely to change soon. Android phone sales really started to pick up during the fourth quarter. Four million out of a total 6.8 million units were sold during the last three months of 2009. Sixty-nine percent of those were sold in North America, driven by Verizon Wireless's promotion of the Motorola Droid, Cozza said.

Palm's WebOS is a newcomer on Gartner's list in seventh place, with a 0.7 percent market share.

While the smartphone market is booming, total worldwide mobile phone sales of 1.2 billion units were down about 1 percent compared to 2008, according to Gartner.

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