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Smartphone Sales Continue Rapid Climb

The torrid sales pace of the smartphone market, expected to take a breather in the first quarter, defied expectations and continued its upward climb, according to a report released Thursday by IDC. Compared with the first quarter a year ago, the market segment grew 67.8 percent in 2006.

Moreover, 18.9 million units were shipped in 1Q 2006 -- representing a 7.5 percent increase from the last quarter of 2005.

"In most mature markets, the first quarter of the new year is usually characterized by a sequential decrease in shipments," said Ramon Llamas, IDC Mobile Markets research analyst, in a statement. "However, as a market with more growth on the way, the converged mobile device market was able to post sequential growth as well as a sizable year-over-year gain."

Research-In-Motion's Blackberry family recorded growth of 85.7 percent year-over-year for the quarter as it led in percentage gains, although Nokia continued to dominate the market segment with a 43.2 percent market share. The market research firm reported that Nokia's shipments declined slightly in the last holiday season, but the company positioned itself favorably in the first quarter with the introduction of its N-Series and E-Series devices.

Newcomer Sharp, shipping exclusively in Japan, made its market debut in late 2005 and quickly sold more than a million units, IDC said, noting that Sharp picked up a 5.7 percent smartphone market share. Also shipping exclusively in Japan was NEC, which logged a 32.6 percent sequential increase in the first quarter. NEC captured 9.5 percent of the overall market.

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