Global Smartphone Market Soared 50 Percent Over Past Year

The global smartphone market saw its best quarter for the first time in almost three years, according to Strategy Analytics, a research firm.

It found that global smartphone shipments jumped by a gigantic 50 percent to 54 million in Q1 from 36 million in the year-ago period. Smartphones accounted for 18 percent of all smartphones shipped. Nokia (NYSE: NOK) shipped a record 21.5 million smartphones to have a leading market share of 40 percent. RIM (NSDQ: RIMM) shipped the second-most handsets to beat Apple (NSDQ: AAPL). The BlackBerry-maker’s market share stands at 20 percent, while Apple’s is at 16.4 percent.

Separately, IDC also released its first-quarter report today, which looks at the overall market for mobile phones — not just the upper echelon. It said that the broader market grew by 21.7 percent to 294.9 million compared to 242.4 million units in the first quarter of 2009. That’s a drastic change in a year ago period when the market declined 16.6 percent.

This quarter’s growth was fueled by smartphones, and for the first time ever, RIM moved into the top five vendor rankings to replace Motorola (NYSE: MOT).

IDC’s Top Five Mobile Phone Vendors:

1. Nokia
2. Samsung
3. LG
4. Research In Motion
5. Sony (NYSE: SNE) Ericsson