Industry first: Smartphones pass PCs in sales

February 7, 2011: 3:01 PM ET

International Data Corp is showing that in the final quarter of 2010, smartphones passed global PC shipments for the first time in history.

As predicted a few months ago, Smartphones have passed PCs in global numbers.  Today's IDC numbers have Smartphones climbing to over 100 million units for the quarter with Nokia (NOK), RIM (RIMM) and Apple(AAPL) bringing in the majority of those unit shipments.  However, as you can see from the chart below, with the exception of Apple who gained .1 point in market share, the big gainers were the lower ranks.  HTC, Samsung and "Others" which are largely Google (GOOG) Android OS device manufacturers including Motorola (MMI), Sony (SNE) and LG were the big gainers.

"Android continues to gain by leaps and bounds, helping to drive the smartphone market," said Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC's Mobile Phone Technology and Trends team. "It has become the cornerstone of multiple vendors' smartphone strategies, and has quickly become a challenger to market leader Symbian. Although Symbian has the backing of market leader Nokia, Android has multiple vendors, including HTC, LG Electronics, Motorola, Samsung and a growing list of companies deploying Android on their devices."

The bigger issue goes back to smartphones passing PCs for the first time. Compare the 100 million smartphone figure to the 92 million PC numbers that IDC posted last month:

This 'inflection point has arrived quicker than many have thought.  Former Morgan Stanley Analyst and now venture capital advisor Mary Meeker pointed to 2012 as when Smartphones would pass PC in terms of raw numbers in a presentation in November (below).

The future certainly looks to be mobile with the majority of the world's population going to the web from their smartphone rather than their PC.

How quickly have the mighty PC fallen?  Interestingly, Smartphones don't include the tens of millions of tablets and iPods which could be considered mobile smart devices as well.

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Seth Weintraub
Seth Weintraub

Google went from searching the Web to worming its way into nearly every facet of business and government. Seth Weintraub unveils where the company is going, who it's competing with, who it's about to compete with and how market forces push the company to veer or adhere to its Don't Be Evil motto. For 15 years, Weintraub was a global IT director for a number of companies before becoming a blogger.

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