During the holiday quarter Android smartphone shipments reached new heights, making Google's mobile operating system the leading smartphone platform in the world, claims market research firm Canalys in a survey released Monday morning.
Total smartphone shipments for the fourth quarter of 2010 reached 101.2 million units, representing a staggering 89 percent annual growth.
For the whole 2010, nearly 300 million smartphone units have been shipped worldwide, representing an 80 percent annual increase compared to the previous year.
Google's carpet bombing with a number of Android-powered devices from LG, Samsung, Acer and HTC was devastating and helped push Android smartphone shipments during the holiday quarter to 33.3 million units, earning the platform the number one slot globally with a 32.9 percent worldwide smartphone market share.
Nokia's Symbian-powered smartphones followed with 31 million units, or 30.6 percent market share, although the Finnish cellphone giant remained the leading phone vendor with worldwide market share of 28 percent. Despite having shipped 16.24 million iPhones during the holiday quarter, Apple came in third with a 16 percent market share, followed by Research In Motion which shipped 14.6 million smartphones accounting for a 14.4 percent fourth-quarter smartphone market share.
In the US, however, RIM recaptured first place from Apple due to the first full quarter of shipments for the BlackBerry Torch and Apple's usual seasonal dip in the country. RIM did particularly well in Latin America where the company beat Nokia by a million units, thanks to its mid-range devices like the Curve family. Following RIM's and Apple's lead in the US was HTC which managed to keep its #3 US ranking for the third consecutive quarter.
Looking just at Android smartphones, Acer and HTC grew their annual shipments 709 percent and 371 percent, respectively, while LG and Samsung grew 4,127 percent and 1,474 percent year-on-year. In the US, Android was killing it. Shipments topped 12.1 million units, nearly three times the number of BlackBerrys sold and enough to make Android by far the largest smartphone platform in the country.
Strong marketing push by Verizon Wireless and two-for-one promotions made Android a huge holdiay hit with US consumers.
2011 will be even more competitive as a number of vendors roll out next-generation phones with 3D displays, NFC chips for wireless payments and dual-core processors. In the US, a lot is being expected from the Verizon iPhone which could alter the landscape dramatically, says Canalys' analyst Tim Shepherd:
Verizon will move its focus away from the Droid range, but the overall market impact will mean less carrier-exclusive deals, while increasing the AT&T opportunity for Android vendors, such as HTC, Motorola and Samsung.
Windows Phone 7 smartphones suffered from being too late on the market so they couldn't take full advantage of the holiday shopping season. As a result, Canalys noted, Microsoft lost share in the US from eight percent in the fourth quarter of 2009 to just five percent in the 2010 holiday quarter.