Nevertheless Apple is the undisputed winner in smartphone market share according to new figures from Gartner.

Half of all smartphones sold are Android-powered

Sales of smartphones surged ahead in the final quarter of 2011, up 47 per cent according to a new report from market analysts Gartner.

149 million smartphones shipped in the last three months of 2011 with nearly half a billion for the full year. Apple managed to overtake LG to become the third largest maker of mobile phones worldwide and the top single manufacturer of smartphones with 19 per cent of the market.

Google’s Android OS continued a bull run in popularity worldwide with just over half of all smartphones shipping with the open source mobile OS. Microsoft managed just 1.9 per cent, down from 3.4 per cent a year earlier.

"Western Europe and North America led most of the smartphone growth for Apple during the fourth quarter of 2011," said Gartner analyst Roberta Cozza.

"In Western Europe the spike in iPhone sales in the fourth quarter saved the overall smartphone market after two consecutive quarters of slow sales." 

Chinese Android upstarts ZTE and Huawei were, after Apple, the fastest growing phone makers. Perhaps surprisingly, South Korean LG bucked the Android trend and slipped substantially, down to 4.9 per cent of the market from the heights of 7.1 per cent a year before.

LG’s market share collapse was more dramatic than that of RIM and the Blackberry which only slipped from 3.1 to 2.9 per cent in a year.

Gartner noted that Nokia’s launch of the Lumia 710 and 800 Windows Phone devices did not realise the sales that would have arrested Microsoft’s fall in smartphone market share. Something they’ll doubtless be trying to address in 2012.

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