iPhone, Android fastest growing smartphones: flash memory shortages loom

Apple’s iPhone seems set to be the biggest-selling individual smartphone of 2009, while Apple’s mobile OS has jumped to third place in the smartphone market, the latest Gartner figures say – and the success is causing problems in the flash memory market.

Apple achieved 24.89 million sales of its iPhone in 2009; that’s just behind RIM’s 34.35 million sales of multiple models of BlackBerry OS-powered phones and lags the 80.99 million unit sales of various Symbian-powered devices.

Symbian’s 2009 market share was 46.9 per cent, RIM’s 19.9 per cent and Apple’s at 14.4 per cent. Next down the line came Windows Mobile (8.7 per cent), Linux (4.7 per cent), Android (3.9 per cent) and Palm’s WebOS (0.7 per cent). (Palm shares are being savaged in trades this morning, BTW).

The two best performers in 2009 were Android and Apple. Android increased its market share by 3.5 percentage points in 2009, while Apple’s share grew by 6.2 percentage points from 2008, which helped it move to the No. 3 position and displace Microsoft Windows Mobile.

As The Register puts it: “We’d bet that no single model from either camp exceeds that 24.89m figure for the number of iPhones shipped.”

1.211 billion phones shipped in 2009, down from 1.200 in 2008, according to Gartner. Apple shipped 2.1 per cent of these.

The success of Apple’s device continues to cause consternation across the flash memory market. iSuppli notes that Apple’s mobile is already consuming vast quantities of flash memory production, with an average of 35.2GB of NAND Flash to be used in each iPhone sold in 2010, iSuppli estimates.

Michael Yang, senior analyst for memory and storage at the research firm added, “Furthermore, iPhone shipments are set to rise to 33 million in 2010, up 31.5% from 25.1 million in 2009.”

This is all good news for flash memory vendors, who expect to see revenues jump over 30 per cent this year, but does leave makers of other flash-using products facing supply shortages and price hikes.

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