The global smartphone market grew by nearly 90 percent in the third quarter of 2010, with enormous gains by Samsung and HTC, says analyst IDC.

Vendors shipped 81 million smartphones, up 89.5 percent from the 42.8 million units shipped in Q3 2009, and also a jump over the previous quarter in 2010. For the first three quarters, vendors shipped 200.6 million smartphones, an increase of 67 percent over the 119.6 million shipped for the first three quarters in 2009.

Smartphone growth outpaces growth in overall mobile phones by six times, as customers seek browsing and multimedia functions on their mobile devices and as carriers expand the range of smartphone brands, IDC said.

"Smartphone makers have the wind behind their sales," said Kevin Restivo, an IDC analyst. He said the transition to smartphones appears unabated.

Nokia still leads the pack, with a 32.7 percent share of the market and 26.5 million smartphones shipped in the third quarter. Even with 61.6 percent year-over-year growth, Nokia's market share is shrinking amid new competition. Nokia launched the C7 and its first Symbian 3 device, the N8, and has plans for a device using the MeeGo operating system in 2011.

Apple's iPhone boosted its rank to second place, with a 17.4 percent market share and 14.1 million phones shipped, a 90 percent increase from the prior year. A well-publicised problem with the iPhone 4 antenna didn't dampen demand, since the company swiftly fixed the problem, IDC said.

BlackBerry maker Research in Motion was third, with a 15.3 percent share and 12.4 million smartphones shipped, an increase of 45.9 percent. The number of shipments reached a record high, but RIM still fell from second place amid the competition. Most notably, RIM released a BlackBerry 6.0 operating system on the BlackBerry Torch 9800 with both a touchscreen and a physical keyboard.

Samsung came in fourth but posted the highest growth compared with a year ago of 453.9 percent with 7.2 million smartphones shipped. It launched the Galaxy S smartphone line, running Android, and will be one of he first to release a Windows Phone 7 device.

HTC was in fifth place with 176 percent growth and 5.8 million units shipped. It also sells Android smartphones globally and plans to ship five different WP7 phones this quarter.

Android-based phones outsold iPhones in the US by nearly 2 to 1 in Q3, NPD Group reported earlier this week.

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