Mobile phone sales down in 2009

Gartner research reveals 1.21 billion phones were sold in 2009, with Nokia, Samsung and LG Electronics leading the global phone market.

Research in Motion, Apple and Google may get the most attention — and smartphones may be increasing in popularity — but dumb normal phones still led the industry last year.  Nokia, with 38.6% marketshare, sold 441 million phones in 2009, a 2.2% drop year-over-year.

Symbian, which recently went open source, still controls 46.9% of the smartphone industry, with RIM (19.9%) and Apple (14.4%) trailing in the No. 2 and No. 3 positions.  Microsoft Windows Mobile phones lost further marketshare, falling from 11.8% to 8.7%.  Google Android, which has received a large amount of publicity, controls just 4.3% of the market.

Mobile phone sales down in 2009

The Android marketshare will likely increase in 2010 and 2011, as even more Android-powered phones are introduced to consumers.

Both Nokia and Symbian, despite being market leaders in the hardware and software markets, face the biggest threats from competitors.  Nokia has been unable to release a popular smartphone in the U.S., while Symbian continues to struggle against Android, iPhone OS, Blackberry and other mobile platforms.

An open source Symbian has a chance to maintain market share in emerging markets and developing nations, as there are now around 4.6 billion mobile phone subscriptions worldwide according to a UN report.  Most users in these growing markets don’t need an expensive, robust smartphone — leaving Symbian in an ideal position to branch out.

CPU and other hardware manufacturers also are shifting from computers to smartphones and smartbooks.  Even without smartphones, Nokia and other companies have the chance to cater to emerging nations — especially as the phone infrastructure in South America and Africa continues to develop.