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Windows Mobile Share Drops Despite Smartphone Growth

More than 172 million smartphones were sold in 2009, an increase of nearly 24 percent from 2008, but the number of devices based on Microsoft's Windows Mobile declined 8 percent. These findings were revealed Tuesday by Gartner, which released its annual report on the mobile phone market.

Apple, Google, Nokia and Research In Motion were the biggest gainers, according to the report. Only devices based on Windows Mobile and those based on Linux mobile operating systems saw declines.

For 2010, Gartner is forecasting low double-digit growth and a competitive market specifically around mobile operating systems.

Carolina Milanesi, Gartner's research director for mobile devices, predicts Microsoft will face an uphill battle in the smartphone market, despite announcing its new Windows Phone platform last week.

"I believe that Windows Phone is a competitive platform but not a platform that stands out among what is already in the market today," Milanesi said in an e-mail. "Hence, Microsoft will have to work on advertising around its brand as well as around enriching the ecosystem offering starting with [Windows] Marketplace. By the end of the year, the OS market will be very competitive."

Apple sold nearly 25 million iPhones last year, more than double the amount it sold in 2008, and captured a 14 percent share of the global market, up from an 8.2 percent. RIM, the No. 2 provider of smartphones behind Nokia, sold 47 million BlackBerrys, a 47 percent increase. There are now 6.8 million units based on Google's Android platform, which used to be a non-factor in 2008 when it just entered the smartphone market.

Android had a late-year effect on the market with the release of the Motorola Droid. During the fourth quarter, both Apple and RIM saw fourth-quarter share declines, seemingly a result of Google's gains, according to Milanesi.

One platform that hasn't made a huge dent in the market is Palm's new webOS. Only 1.2 million new Palm devices were sold since the release of the Pre in June. That accounted for less than 1 percent of the market. Only 1.1 million devices based on "other" platforms were sold, down from 4 million in 2008.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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