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The global smart phone market exceeded 100 million units in Q4 2010, says market researcher Canalys. Google’s Android has become the leading platform. Shipments of Android smart phones reached 32.9 million, while devices running Nokia’s Symbian platform trailed slightly at 31.0 million worldwide in Q4 2010.

HTC and Samsung together accounted for nearly 45% of Google OS-based handset shipments. The United States was the largest country market in terms of shipments, at more than double the size of the Chinese smart phone market. RIM recaptured first place from Apple, while HTC successfully maintained its third-place ranking in the US.

Android was by far the largest smart phone platform in the US market in Q4 2010, with shipments of 12.1 million units – nearly three times those of RIM’s BlackBerry devices. Windows Phone 7 devices appeared too late in the quarter to take full advantage of holiday season purchasing. As a result, Microsoft lost share in the United States, from 8% in Q4 2009 to 5% in Q4 2010.

‘The US landscape will shift dramatically this coming year, as a result of the Verizon-Apple agreement,’ said Canalys Analyst Tim Shepherd.

Google’s Android Market currently features less than 130,000 apps, but its grew more than 500 percent last year, compared with Apple’s App Store, with some 400,000 applications, rising by about 110 percent. Nokia revealed during its Q4 earnings report last week that its mobile application market, the Ovi Store, now offers 30,000 apps available for download.

Gartner recently predicted that apps will generate $15 billion in revenue this year, with downloads more than doubling, to 17.2 billion from 2010’s 8.2 billion. By the end of 2014, Gartner forecasts over 185 billion applications will have been downloaded from mobile app stores, since the launch of the first one in July 2008.

Android tablets captured 22 percent of global tablet shipments in the three months to Dec. 31, up from 2.3 percent in the preceding quarter, according to Boston-based researcher Strategy Analytics. Apple’s iPad has sold more than 14.8 million units worldwide since its introduction in April. ISuppli forecasts 57 million tablets will be sold this year and 171 million in 2014.

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