In Q3 2010, the worldwide smartphone market grew an impressive 95% over the same quarter a year ago to 80.9 million shipped units, according to Canalys.

Nokia retained its leadership position, albeit by a diminished margin, with a 33% share of the market. Apple’s healthy performance this quarter saw it achieve a 17% share worldwide, a little ahead of RIM, which held a 15% share this quarter.

In the world’s largest smart phone market, the US, Apple ousted RIM from the top spot, seizing a 26% share as iPhone shipments continued unabated. RIM has also launched its latest generation smart phone, the Torch, though it only saw half a quarter’s shipments in the US.

But the plethora of smart phones running the Open Handset Alliance’s (OHA’s) Android platform meant that Canalys’ final published country-level data shows that it took the lead in the US market by operating system, with a 44% share.

As well as the positive picture in the US, Canalys’ detailed country level smart phone research has consistently highlighted the importance of, and differences in, ‘emerging markets’. For example, in what are now being called the ‘BRIIC’ countries (Brazil, Russia, India, Indonesia and mainland China), smart phone shipments increased by 112% year-on-year, faster than the market overall, and each country individually saw strong growth. Nokia was the leading vendor in all five BRIIC markets in Q3 2010, benefiting from its global reach and channel relationships.

According to Canalys, once again this quarter, it was devices running the Android platform that proved the greatest driver of growth in the worldwide market, up 1,309% year-on-year from 1.4 million in Q3 2009 to more than 20.0 million units in Q3 2010, forming a quarter of the market share. “With Samsung, HTC, Motorola and Sony Ericsson all delivering large numbers of Android devices, and with focused efforts from many other vendors, such as LG, Huawei and Acer, yielding promising volumes, the platform continues to gather momentum in markets around the world,2 said Canalys Senior Analyst Pete Cunningham.

Driven by Nokia, the Symbian Foundation retained its position as the leading smart phone OS vendor worldwide. Of the 56 named countries that Canalys tracks, it is still the number one OS vendor in 37 of them because of Nokia’s dominance, plus in Japan, where its position is supported by Fujitsu and Sharp. According to the report, the launch of Nokia’s new range of Symbian devices, particularly the N8, will give a boost to its holiday season shipments, and the outlook into 2011 remains positive as Nokia aims to push Symbian devices further into the mid-tier of the market to attract mass-market volumes.

Devices running Microsoft’s OS accounted for just 3% of worldwide smart phone shipments in Q3 2010, though with the launch of Windows Phone 7 devices, the outlook for the fourth quarter and beyond is significantly improved. “Windows Phone 7 is streets ahead of earlier iterations and provides a vastly improved user experience that will pleasantly surprise many people when they come to use it. The integration of Microsoft service assets, such as Xbox Live, Bing, Zune and Office, greatly strengthens the proposition and we are confident that the initial array of products will perform well,” said Chris Jones, Canalys Principal Analyst.

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