The global mobile phone market grew 21.7 percent in the first quarter of 2010, a strong rebound over the first quarter of 2009, according to the latest report from IDC.
Vendors shipped 294.9 million units in the first quarter of 2010 compared to 242.4 million units a year earlier.
Smartphones and a recovering traditional mobile phone category helped the market avoid a repeat of Q109, when the market dove 16.6 percent during the recession.
Growing demand for smartphones also helped Research In Motion (RIM) 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 Q110 vendor rankings. RIM shipped 10.6 million units in the first quarter while Motorola, which had been a top 5 vendor since the start of IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker in 2004, shipped 8.5 million units. Motorola, the number 2 overall vendor in 2004, landed a fifth place finish last year due to 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 ongoing shift has given rise to mobile device vendors such as RIM and Apple.
"That the mobile phone market has rebounded by double digits year over year in a post-holiday quarter is definitely good news for the industry," said Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC's Mobile Devices Technology and Trends team.
"Whereas last year we saw much uncertainty around demand and overall reluctance to introduce new devices, vendors have been very vocal about their intentions this year, with some even launching new devices in the first quarter of 2010. In addition, the continued emphasis on converged mobile devices points to greater revenue generation and profitability opportunities for vendors, which is a welcome change compared to the same quarter a year ago."
IDC said it 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)," said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker.
"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."