Worldwide mobile phone sales grew 8% in the fourth quarter of last year, according to Gartner.
The overall market remained flat across 2009, with sales declining 0.9% compared to 2008. But the fourth quarter saw the market pick up slightly, with growth of 8.3% compared to the last quarter in 2008.
In total, some 1.2 billion phones were sold in 2009, 340 million of these in the final quarter. The push in the final months was down to growth in smartphones and low-end devices, Gartner said.
Carolina Milanesi, research director at Gartner, said, "Smartphone sales continued their strong growth in the fourth quarter of 2009, totalling 53.8 million units, up 41.1% from the same period in 2008.
"In 2009, smartphone sales reached 172.4 million units, a 23.8% increase from 2008. In 2009, smartphone-focused vendors like Apple and Research In Motion [RIM] successfully captured market share from other larger device producers."
Apple and RIM control 14.4% and 19.9% of the world market respectively.
Roberta Cozza, principal research analyst at Gartner, said 2010 is set to be a good year for further growth. "Looking back at the announcements during Mobile World Congress 2010, we can expect 2010 to retain a strong focus around operating systems, services and applications while hardware takes a back seat. Sales will return to low-double-digit growth, but competition will continue to put a strain on vendors' margins."