Research: Smartphone shipments strong in seasonally slow Q1

Research shows that smartphone shipments remained strong in the first quarter, despite a traditional slowdown after the busier holiday season.

The latest research shows that smartphone shipments were down slightly for the first three months of the year - but that shouldn't be seen as a negative sign. In fact, the slight drop is better than expected for a quarter that traditionally sees a dip after the busier holiday quarter.

In the first quarter of 2010, more than 55 million smartphones were shipped, according to ABI Research. And the data suggests that the strongest demand came from the Asia-Pacific region.

One of the primary drivers: less-expensive smartphones. Prices have come down on smartphones across the board - and not just through the buy one, get one types of promos used to get Blackberrys and Androids into more hands.

Nokia, for example, saw quarter-over-quarter shipments rise from 20.8 million to 21.5 million, despite the normal seasonal decline - and that's coming off of an already strong fourth quarter, ABI researchers said. Specifically, ABI highlighted the strength of its new "C" and "X" line models, which are simpler, lower-end devices that don't deliver all of the "bleeding-edge top-of-the-line technology" but can still deliver basic smartphone experiences, including mobile social networking.

They're not iPhone killers, ABI analyst Michael Morgan said, but clearly some of the experiences they offer are good enough for those looking to tip-toe into smartphones.

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