Smartphone shipments saw 37.2 percent worldwide growth on a year-over-year basis during the fourth quarter of 2009, with Apple leading the way at 97.9 percent, according to a research report issued by Needham’s Charlie Wolf and covered by AppleInsider.
Nokia and RIM saw growth of 37.3 percent and 41.2 percent, respectively, showing that competition remains fierce in the space and leading Mr. Wolf to compare it to “a land grab not dissimilar to the California gold rush in the 1800s. Everyone is chasing the iPhone, which has taken on an aura that far exceeds the phone's market share. The aura stems from the disruptive design and functionality of the first iPhone, and it has been reinforced by the remarkable success of the iPhone App Store."
But the real battle, according to him, will be between Microsoft and Google. He views the Windows Phone 7 OS as an “Android killer” and wrote: "Microsoft has delivered on the necessary condition for success -- a smartphone operating system that should enable it to play in the same sandbox with Apple, Google and BlackBerry.” The new OS is also expected to run the upcoming Zune HD2 portable media player, which will compete against Apple’s iPod touch.
Mr. Wolf also observed that Palm has a “superior platform” in the Pre, but the company “simply does not have the financial resources to market its devices at a level comparable to its competitors. But miracles do occur occasionally."