Nokia ranks at top globally in Q1 smart-phone sales

Smart-phone market grows by almost 30 percent worldwide

While much of the attention in the US smart phone market is on the next-generation iPhone, which was revealed by Apple on Monday, the global leader for smart-phone sales is still Nokia, analyst firm Gartner said in a report released Friday.

Nokia had 45.2 percent of the worldwide market in the first quarter, followed by Research in Motion, Ltd., the maker of BlackBerry, with 13 percent, and the Apple's iPhone (first generation), with 5 percent, was third, Gartner said.

In the US, RIM was ranked number one, at 42 percent for the first quarter, while Apple was number two, at 20 percent, Gartner said. Earlier this week, research firm IDC reported similar findings, putting RIM in the U.S. at a 44 percent share and Apple at a 19 percent share.

Gartner found that RIM's global market share increased to 13.4 percent in the quarter, up from 8.3 percent in the first quarter a year earlier. The iPhone was not shipping until June 2007. Nokia slipped slightly to a market share of 45.2 percent this year from 46.7 percent in the same quarter last year, although the total number of units shipped rose from 14.5 million units in the quarter, up from 11.6 million in the first quarter of 2007.

Globally, total smart-phone growth in the first quarter grew 29 percent, making up 11 percent of all mobile devices sold. Sales in the first quarter totaled 32.2 million units, Gartner said.

In Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), growth was 38.7 percent in the first quarter, compared to the first quarter of 2007, with 11.7 million units sold, Gartner said. Nokia is especially strong in Europe. By comparison, smart-phone sales in North America were up 106 percent in the first quarter compared with the first quarter a year ago, with a total number of 7.3 million units sold.

Smart-phone growth was driven by buyers replacing older phones, but also by new devices with touchs-screens and a variety of new applications, Gartner analysts said. Growth in the smart-phone segment is expected to continue as more open-platform devices are announced, such as Android-based phones, they added.

Despite an economic downturn, the smart-phone market continued to expand in the US, driven by lower cost devices and heavy advertising and marketing, said Hugues De La Vergne, a Gartner analyst. Wireless operators in the US and Canada are also giving the smart-phone devices their attention, since they can provide higher revenue per user than more traditional devices, he added.

Globally, the fourth-ranked smart-phone in sales was a tie between Sharp and Fujitsu, each with 4.1 percent, Gartner said. All other smart-phone makers had nearly 28 percent of the market, but Gartner did not specify which devices. Microsoft, maker of the Windows Mobile operating system, contends that Windows Mobile smart phones have the largest share globally, but their numbers are not included by either IDC or Gartner because they are sold across four device makers and include ruggedized devices.

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