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Mobile phone sales down in 2009, Chrome barely edges Safari

Overall mobile phone sales are predicted to be down from 2008; the Android Market now has 20,000 applications; and the recent release of Google Chrome beta helped give the browser a slight lead over Safari in market share.

Gartner: Weak 2009 for mobile phones

Though it could have been worse, research firm Gartner said Tuesday that overall mobile phone sales in 2009 will end up down 0.67 percent at 1.214 billion units. That's an improvement over September, when the firm had projected the year would see a 3.7 percent decline.

The situation has improved due to stronger than expected sales in Western Europe. But reduced sales in Eastern Europe, Japan, Latin America and Africa will bring overall sales down from 2008's 1.222 billion.

2010 is predicted to improve, as Gartner has forecast growth of 9 percent. That would amount to 1.322 billion sales for the calendar year.

Smartphones will represent 14 percent of the market in 2009, nearly a 25 percent increase over 2008. That growth was partially driven by the blockbuster success of Apple's iPhone, which sold a record 7.4 million handsets last quarter.

But smartphone growth may not be all good for the industry, Gartner said. Because most devices like the iPhone are accompanied by expensive data plans, it could increase the total cost of ownership beyond the levels of mass-market acceptance.

Android reaches 20,000 apps

The Android Market now has more than 20,000 applications available for devices that run Google's mobile operating system. According to AndroLib, more than 60 percent of those are free, while more than three-quarters of the software available on the iPhone App Store are paid.

Android's total, reached just over one year into its existence, is nowhere near the 100,000 milestone achieved by Apple's App Store in early November, or the 50,000 it had by year one.

For more on the App Store and Android Market, view AppleInsider's in-depth coverage with Inside Google Android and Apple's iPhone OS as software markets.

Google Chrome ekes by Apple Safari

The latest Net Applications data shows that the beta release of Chrome for Mac has pushed the Google browser barely beyond Apple's Safari in terms of total market share. Last week, Google took the No. 3 spot with a 4.4 percent market share, an increase of 0.4 percent. For the period of Dec. 6-12, Safari had a 4.37 percent share.

A week ago, Chrome for Mac was finally released as a beta, more than a year after its Windows counterpart first debuted. Net Applications' tracking of 40,000 Web sites found that the browser accounted for 1.3 percent of all Mac OS X users. Prior to its beta release, Chrome accounted for 0.32 percent of Mac users.

Both remain well behind the leader, Internet Explorer (which carries more than 60 percent of the browser share), and second-place option, Firefox (which has about 25 percent).

Soon after its release, a speed test of Google Chrome found it to be slightly slower than Apple's Safari. Safari was also found to be twice as fast as Firefox and over ten times faster than Opera in SunSpider JavaScript benchmarks.