“Despite ash clouds over Europe, handset shipments globally for 1Q-2010 powered ahead to 303 million, up 19 percent Year-on-Year,” said Jake Saunders, VP for Forecasting at ABI Research. “This bodes well for 2010 as a whole; shipments could well reach 1.3 billion. It is also notable that 3G handset shipments eclipsed 2G handset shipments.”

Strongest handset shipment growth was seen in the Middle East and Africa (20 percent YoY) followed by the Americas, particularly the US (11 percent). Europe, on the other hand, is languishing with single-digit growth.

Nokia’s market-share stood at 34 percent. New smartphones such as the N8 are helping the manufacturer to shore up its handset portfolio, as its loss of traction in the smartphone sector hit sales hard. In response, revamped efforts with Symbian ^3 and ^4, are intended to help Nokia regain momentum. Nokia is counting on smartphones expanding into the mid-tier and low tier segments where it believes it has strength.

Samsung had a strong quarter, securing 21 percent. Over the past year, Samsung has been cultivating deeper relationships with US and European carriers, which helped the firm grow its shipments 40.2 percent YoY.

LG’s market-share, 8.9 percent, has suffered from a weak smartphone portfolio in the North American market. LG has been traditionally strong in the enhanced phone sector, and has been giving a number of its older enhanced phones a smartphone twist. For example, its Chocolate phone has gone wide-screen. Shipments grew 20 percent YoY.

Motorola is benefiting from its initial success (2.8 percent) with the Droid and is keen to back it up with new products such as the Quench; however, the market is overtaking it. Motorola is hoping the strong social networking theme to its smartphone line-up will help it to curry favor with the youth and prosumer market.

1Q-2010 proved to a strong quarter for Apple (8.75m, 2.9 percent) devices shipped, which is up 130% YoY. iPhone OS release 4, which brings multitasking and in-app advertising capabilities, should help to maintain momentum. However, Apple should diversify its lineup.

For more about worldwide mobile device markets, please visit ABI Research’s “Mobile Devices Market Sizing and Share” and “Mobile Devices Market Forecast Analysis.” Both are part of the firm’s “Smartphones & Mobile Devices Research Service.”