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If you haven't checked into the world of cellular gadgets since buying that Motorola (NYSE: MOT ) RAZR, you've fallen a bit behind.
Good old-fashioned cell phones are officially passe; long live smartphones, the new kings of the mobile device world! According to research firm Gartner, mobile devices as a whole saw a 8.6% decline year over year, but smartphone sales actually saw a 12.7% increase over the same period.
So while other electronics companies face pressure from consumers tightening their belts and going for more affordable options (e.g., Dell (Nasdaq: DELL ) and other computer builders seeing buyers opt for more affordable netbooks), smartphones are actually accelerating in sales versus their feature-light counterparts.
Before you vote on which company gives the best bang for your buck in the smartphone arms race, let's take a brief look at where the industry stands:
Nokia (NYSE: NOK ) -- The current market leader with an estimated 41% world market share. Nokia's not priced as aggressively as its competitors, trading at only 14 times trailing earnings, but it has struggled to maintain its dominant position against upstart competitors.
Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM ) -- Due in part to a promotion that gave consumers a "buy one get one free" offer on its Curve series, RIM has posted a series of strong quarterly results. However, even without promotions, RIM's traditionally business-user-focused phones have proven popular. A recent survey by ChangeWave Research found that more consumers planned to buy a BlackBerry than an iPhone.
Palm (Nasdaq: PALM ) -- Don't be fooled by the familiar name; Palm is playing the underdog. After years of sliding toward irrelevance, the company regrouped to release its Pre smartphone, which is essentially an all-or-nothing gambit. Initial reviews have been positive, but the company still faces an uphill battle against larger, more cash-rich competitors.
Even after naming all these giants, there's still Microsoft's Windows Mobile platform and a host of other smartphone makers such as Samsung. After taking our poll, drop a comment below and let us know your thoughts.