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.
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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."