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Gartner: Apple's iPhone was No. 3 worldwide smartphone in 2009

After more than doubling its total sales from a year prior, the iPhone platform was catapulted into third place in global smartphone sales in 2009, with Apple shipping 24.9 million handsets.

Apple took an estimated 14.4 percent of the total mobile operating system market, according to Gartner, which put it behind only Nokia's Symbian platform, which had 46.9 percent on 80.9 million sales, and Research in Motion, which carried 19.9 percent with 34.3 million units sold.

The big gainers in 2009 were Apple, Google and RIM, which all saw significant increases in their market share. In 2008, Apple commanded just 8.2 percent of the market with 11.4 million units sold. But the company's share grew 6.2 percent in 2009, giving it the largest increase of any handset maker and helping it to displace Windows Mobile.

Apple was helped by a strong finish in 2009. In the last quarter alone, the company sold a record 8.7 million iPhones, representing 100 percent growth over the year-ago quarter.

Android jumped from under a percent share in 2008 to 3.9 percent in 2009, and RIM added more than 10 million unit sales in 2009.

"Android's success experienced in the fourth quarter of 2009 should continue into 2010 as more manufacturers launch Android products, but some (communication service providers) and manufacturers have expressed growing concern about Google's intentions in the mobile market," said Roberta Cozza, principal research analyst with Gartner. "If such concerns cause manufacturers to change their product strategies or CSPs to change which devices they stock, this might hinder Android's growth in 2010."

Android's growth put it in sixth place, behind Microsoft's Windows Mobile and Linux in fourth and fifth, respectively. Coming in seventh was Palm's Web OS, which took just 0.7 percent of the global market based on 1.2 million units sold. All other mobile operating systems accounted for 0.6 percent of the smartphone share worldwide.

Worldwide Smartphone Sales to End Users by Operating System in 2009 (Thousands of Units). Source: Gartner.

Losing ground in 2009 was Nokia, which saw its Symbian platform drop from 52.4 percent a year prior to 46.9 percent. Nokia, however, remains the dominant smartphone market leader, with more unit sales than Apple, RIM and Microsoft combined.

"Symbian had become uncompetitive in recent years, but its market share, particularly on Nokia devices, is still strong," Cozza said. "If Symbian can use this momentum, it could return to positive growth."

In all, 172.3 million smartphones were sold in 2009, well up from the 139.3 million shipped in the 2008 calendar year.

Total cell phone sales were 1.2 billion in 2009, down 0.9 percent from 2008. Again the top company was Nokia, which represented 36.4 percent of overall sales. The Finnish brand sold 441 million handsets in the calendar year, losing 2.2 percent of its share from 2008.

In second was Samsung with 19.6 percent of the market and 236 million units sold, followed in order by LG, Motorola and Sony Ericsson. All other brands accounted for 24.7 percent of sales, or 299 million units.