Sales of smartphones outstripped those of personal computers for the first time in the final months of last year, research by IDC shows.
The IT market watcher’s analysis shows that device makers shipped 101 million smartphones globally in the three months up to 31 December 2010, up 87% over the year ago quarter. In comparison, shipments of PCs reached 92 million units in the fourth quarter, up just 3% year-on-year.
IDC says that the explosive growth seen in the smartphone market has been driven partly by the success of Google’s Android operating system, launched in 2008. The Android platform is the software backbone of smartphone devices built by a variety of manufacturers, including HTC, Motorola and Sony Ericsson.
"Android continues to gain [market share] by leaps and bounds, helping to drive the smartphone market," commented IDC analyst Ramon Llamas. "It has become the cornerstone of multiple vendors’ smartphone strategies, and has quickly become a challenger to market leader Symbian."
According to separate research conducted by IT analysts Canalys earlier this year, Android-based devices overtook those based on Finnish vendor Nokia’s Symbian platform for the first time in the final quarter of last year.
Figures published by Canalys claimed that Android held a 32.9% share of the smartphone device market, followed by Symbian at 30.6%. Handsets based on Apple’s iOS and Research In Motion’s BlackBerry OS, held market shares of 16% and 14.4%, respectively.