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Smartphone shipments jump 50pc since last year: ABI Research

With 19 percent of all mobile phones shipped in the second quarter of this year being smartphones, the opportunity for marketers is unparalleled.

That was the key finding of an ABI Research report. Smartphones made up 19 percent of all handsets shipped in the second quarter, a 12 percent increase over the first quarter, and a 50 percent jump compared to the same quarter in 2009.

?Well first and foremost, the smartphone market is experiencing explosive growth,? said Michael Morgan, Vermont-based senior analyst for mobile devices at ABI Research. ?I am predicting an all-time record high for the third quarter numbers.?

With so many players in the smartphone ecosystem, fragmentation is challenging.

There are so many players and so many operating systems that the question of whether this market structure can be sustained arises.

Most observers say no: it needs to boil down to three or perhaps four key operating systems.

?There are different OSs and you can?t just write once and deploy everywhere,? Mr. Morgan said. ?Even within the various handset types like RIM, they have the 6.0 OS and others and each has to be addressed differently.

?There is a real issue with the fragmentation,? he said. ?Right now there are two key platforms: iOS and Android.

?The fact is iOS is doing a great job and is a verticalized marketing machine using the mobile phone as a platform to sell stuff.?

Growth rates
The remarkable growth rates are being driven by falling, and often heavily subsidized, handset prices.

Cost is no longer much of an obstacle.

One of the key remaining barriers to smartphone adoption in subsidized markets is now the cost of the data plan rather than the cost of the handset.

The battle for supremacy is now escalating at a feverish pitch, per Mr. Morgan.

In addition, the huge numbers of smartphones now connected in the United States ? especially iOS and Android models ? are creating network capacity concerns that are sucking the value out of the mobile ecosystem.

Vendors faring best
Apple shipped about 8.4 million iPhones in the second quarter, of which about 3 million were iPhone 4 models that only launched a couple of weeks before the end of the quarter.

Also, third quarter results were even more impressive, posting a 68 percent quarter-over-quarter growth.

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

?The smartphone is different than the feature phone,? Mr. Morgan said. ?It is a more powerful device with a better software experience and a lot have app storefronts that create marketing opportunities.

?Developers are trying to make money and standing out is difficult,? he said. ?The OSs are competing for marketshare because marketshare turns into mindshare for developers.?