A Quarter of Mobile Phones Will Be Smartphones by 2013, Says ABI

More than one-fourth of mobile phones sold in 2013 will be classified as smartphones, according to ABI Research.

ABI released its projections today as part of its mid-year report on the smartphone market. Currently ABI projects that 19% of mobile phones sold in 2010 will be smartphones, up from 16% of all mobile phones sold in 2009. ABI defines a smartphone as a cellular phone that runs on a high-level operating system such as BlackBerry OS, iPhone OS, Android, webOS or Symbian.

How Android hit the big time in the smartphone OS market

According to ABI, Symbian has remained the most popular smartphone operating system in the world so far this year, as Symbian-based devices have sold 25.8 million units worldwide through the second quarter of 2010. Devices based on Google's open-source Android operating system, meanwhile, have made a giant leap forward in the last quarter, selling 11.3 million units in the second quarter. This total is more than double the 5.5 million Android-based units sold in the first quarter this year and is just ahead of the 11.2 million BlackBerry OS-based units sold in the second quarter of this year.

ABI's finding on the explosion of Android sales dovetails with research released this week by Nielsen, which reported that Android-based devices had blown past the Apple iPhone in the United States, accounting for 27% of all smartphones sold in the U.S. in the first quarter 2010.

In terms of sales of device manufacturers, ABI finds that Nokia is far and away the king of the worldwide smartphone market, selling roughly 45 million smartphones this year, more than twice as many as its closest competitor. Research in Motion came in a distant second, selling around 22 million smartphones in the first half of 2010, while Apple came in third at around 17 million units sold this year.

Although both HTC and Motorola trailed behind Nokia, Apple and RIM in terms of overall smartphone sales, ABI says those two companies have experienced significant growth this year due to their success in marketing smartphones based on Google's popular Android platform. HTC, which manufactures the Droid Incredible and the Evo 4G, has done particularly well this year and has seen its smartphone sales surge from 3.3 million in the first quarter of 2010 to 5.4 million in the second quarter.

ABI Research analyst Kevin Burden says that the recent successes of the HTC Evo 4G and the Motorola Droid X also show that the industry is moving more toward larger devices that showcase high-definition touchscreens.

"We're through with scaling down the size of devices," he says. "A lot more people are comfortable with phones that are PDA-sized."

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