Global sales of smartphones surged by 39 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2009, a new report reveals.
According to the International Data Corporation's (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, smartphone sales grew at an all-time high over the period.
54.4 million high-end handset flew off the shelves in the run up to Christmas, helping total sales of smartphones to hit 174.2 million and account for 15.4 per cent of all mobiles sold over the course of the year.
Ramon Llamas of the IDC said: "Increasingly, mobile phone users are seeking greater utility from their devices beyond telephony and messaging and [smartphones] fulfill that need.
"To help address demand, carriers took advantage of lower prices on many older devices, ordering additional units and, in turn, offering reduced prices to end users. It was the perfect set of conditions to push shipments to a record level."
Meanwhile, IDC analyst Kevin Restivo noted that platforms such as Google's Android and Palm's webOS made headway in 2009, but predicted that in 2010 new versions of Symbian and Windows Mobile would generate fresh interest and increased sales for smartphone manufacturers.
The study named Nokia as the top smartphone maker for its Eseries business-based smartphones and the two N97 mobiles.
Research in Motion (RIM) was in second place, with sales of 10 million BlackBerry smartphones marking a record quarter for the company.
Apple and Motorola took third and fourth positions respectively, with the latter making a comeback after a 12 month absence from the top five.
HTC crept into fifth place, thanks to successful Android smartphones such as the Hero and a growing public profile.