The worldwide mobile phone market grew 21.7% in the first quarter of 2010, a strong rebound from the market contraction in Q1 2009. Growth was fuelled by increased demand for smartphones, and the global economic recovery.

According to the IDC Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker, vendors shipped 294.9 million units in the first quarter of 2010 compared to 242.4 million units in the first quarter of 2009.

The report shows that growing demand for smartphones helped Research In Motion move into the top 5 vendor rankings for the first time. RIM, which replaced Motorola in the top 5, tied Sony Ericsson for the number 4 position in IDC’s 1Q10 vendor rankings.

RIM shipped 10.6 million units in the first quarter while Motorola, which had been a top 5 vendor since the inception of IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker in 2004, shipped 8.5 million units.

Motorola, the number 2 overall vendor in 2004, registered a fifth place finish last year by virtue of its overall strength in the lower-growth traditional mobile phone category. Motorola has steadily lost share since 2004 when the market started its shift toward higher-end feature phones and smartphones.

"The entrance of RIM into the top 5 underscores the sustained smartphone growth trend that is driving the global mobile phone market recovery," noted Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC’s Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker.

"This is also the first time a vendor has dropped out of the top 5 since the second quarter of 2005, when Sony Ericsson grabbed the number 5 spot from BenQ Siemens," he said.

IDC believes the worldwide mobile phone market rebound will continue in 2010, though not at the same growth rate as the first quarter.

"It should be noted that the market’s first-quarter growth, while impressive, is relative to one of the worst quarters in mobile phone industry history (1Q09)," noted Restivo.

He said that the market’s growth should not be taken as a proxy for future quarters nor annual growth. “In fact, the results essentially match our first quarter projections. We are still expecting growth of 11% for 2010," he added.

Top five mobile phone vendors according to IDC:

1. Nokia
2. Samsung
3. LG Electronics
4. RIM
5. Sony Ericsson

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