Shipments advanced to 158 million units from 102 million a year earlier, exceeding IDC’s forecast for a gain of 40 percent, the Framingham, Massachusetts-based research firm said today in a statement.
Smartphone demand is increasing as prices for devices become more affordable, encouraging users to upgrade to handsets on which they can browse the Web and send e-mail. Existing users are also trading up to more powerful smartphones such as the iPhone 4S, which went on sale in October. Apple sold 37 million iPhones last quarter, helping the Cupertino, California-based company to double its profit in the period.
By the end of 2011, one out of every three mobile phones shipped worldwide was a smartphone, and the iPhone 4S “played a key role in smartphone growth to capture pent-up demand,” Ramon Llamas, an analyst at IDC, said in the statement.
Apple’s share of the global smartphone market jumped to 24 percent from 16 percent a year earlier, regaining its top spot from Samsung Electronics (005930) Co., which had overtaken the iPhone- maker in the third quarter. Suwon, Korea-based Samsung’s share climbed to 23 percent in the fourth quarter from 9.4 percent a year earlier, IDC said.
Nokia, RIM Slump
Nokia and Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM, both of which are struggling to reverse slumping sales with new phone operating systems, saw their respective share shrink. Espoo, Finland-based Nokia’s share fell by more than half to 12 percent from 28 percent a year earlier, and RIM’s dropped to 8.2 percent from 14 percent.
A delay in the introduction of RIM’s new BlackBerry 10 platform until late this year “gives the competition opportunity to attack RIM’s strongholds,” IDC said.
Taoyuan, Taiwan-based HTC Corp. (2498), which like Samsung builds phones on Google Inc.’s (GOOG) Android platform, has struggled recently against its Korean rival. HTC’s market share dropped to 6.5 percent from 8.5 percent.
HTC dropped 5.2 percent in Taipei today while Samsung climbed 0.8 percent in Seoul.