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RIM, Apple Feast on Nokia

Smartphones are the hottest game in tech town these days, and the leader, Nokia (NOK), is losing steam.

Market share among the key smartphone players shifted dramatically last year, according to Gartners' fourth-quarter tally. The smartphone industry overall grew 3.7% in 2008.

The big winners in terms of percentage gains were Samsung, Apple (AAPL) and Research In Motion (RIMM), up 138%, 112% and 85%, respectively, according to Gartner.

Smartphone Market Share
Rivals Nibble at Nokia
chart
Gartner

The only loser among the top five smartphone makers was Nokia, which suffered a 17% drop in market share, falling to 40.8% from 50.9% in the year-ago quarter.

Nokia's numbers are likely to slide until the second half of the year, when the Finnish phone firm delivers a new crop of smartphones.

Meanwhile, RIM has been seeing strong demand for its new Storm and older Curve devices. And some see hope for Motorola in its new Google (GOOG) Android smartphones. There's also swelling interest in Palm's (PALM) upcoming Pre phone. All these smartphones are expected to land this year.

Nokia investors shrugged off the nearly three-month-old smartphone performance data Wednesday. The stock was up 52 cents, or 5%, to $10.23 at mid-day.

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