Smartphones account for one in five phones shipped

Apple are top dog again

New figures show that the smartphones are now accounting for one in every five phones shipped, that’s up from one in ten this time last year.

The smartphone markets are continuing to forge ahead at an extraordinary pace. According to ABI Research, smartphones made up 19% of all handsets shipped in the second quarter; that represents a 12% increase over the first quarter, and a 50% jump compared to the same quarter in 2009.

Senior analyst at ABI Research Michael Morgan says that these remarkable growth rates are being driven by falling – and often heavily subsidised – handset prices, although it seems that cost is no longer much of an obstacle it’s now down to the data plan: “One of the key remaining barriers to smartphone adoption in subsidised markets is now the cost of the data plan rather than the cost of the handset.”

Although the market is doing well ABI are warning that there are too many players in the market and that something or somebody will have to give, and it looks like that’s going to be one of the many different OS’s currently on sale. Morgan explains “there are so many players and so many operating systems that the question becomes, ‘Can this market structure be sustained?’ Most observers say no: it needs to boil down to three or perhaps four key operating systems.”

ABI also sees that in the US market the huge numbers of smartphones – especially iOS and Android models – are creating network capacity issues which they claim will suck “the value out” of the mobile ecosystem.

Of all the smartphones shipped Apple once again gets the lions’ share. Apple shipped about 8.4 million iPhones in Q2, of which about 3 million were iPhone 4 models that only launched a couple of weeks before the end of the quarter. Q3 results were even more impressive, posting a 68% quarter-over-quarter growth.

HTC also did very well, with shipments growing from 3.3 million to 5.3 million units the by the start of the third quarter, and its improvement continued through Q3.

RIM recently launched its latest OS but, says Morgan, “RIM hasn’t seen the full benefit of its OS launch yet,” with QoQ growth moving only from 10.5 to 11.2 million shipments.

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