Android Leads Smartphone Surge

Android smartphones led the surge of global handset sales last year, according to research firm Gartner.

The report said that smartphone sales skyrocketed 72 percent to 297 million units in 2010, with Android providing a tenfold increase to 67 million shipments. Total mobile phone sales rose 32 percent to 1.6 billion units in the period.

The results come a week after another research company, Canalys, said that Android surpassed Nokia’s Symbian platform to become the most widely-used mobile operating system in the world. In Gartner’s estimates, Symbian still edged out Android.

The recent growth of Google’s software puts pressure on Nokia, who has been developing a turnaround strategy amid plummeting profits. The Finnish phone maker, which largely missed the shifting consumer demand from feature phones to smartphones, plans to announce a strategy on Friday to regain lost market share.

Nokia is expected to shake up its management team, and perhaps abandon Symbian altogether for Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7. The company’s market share slipped to 28.9 percent from 36.4 percent over the year, Gartner said.

Meanwhile, BlackBerry maker Research in Motion and Apple displaced Sony Ericsson and Motorola to become the fourth- and fifth-largest handset companies.

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