updated 11/4/2010 4:55:59 PM ET 2010-11-04T20:55:59

The global smart phone market climbed nearly 90 percent in the third quarter, according to research firm IDC, as consumers flocked to handsets made by Nokia, Apple and Research In Motion.

IDC said Thursday that, according to its Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, smart phone makers shipped 81.1 million phones during the July-September quarter — a jump of 89.5 percent from the year-ago period, when 42.8 million phones were shipped.

So far this year, 200.6 million smart phones have been shipped. This is a 67.6 percent increase over the 119.6 million phones shipped in the same time frame last year, IDC said.

The availability of increasingly powerful mobile devices — such as Apple's iPhone and phones that run Google's Android operating system — has helped fuel demand, and wireless service providers have been offering an ever-growing array of devices that are often heavily subsidized when consumers sign up for a monthly plan.

Framingham, Mass.-based IDC believes that smart phones will make up more than 20 percent of all cell phones shipped by the end of the year. This would be a 5 percent increase from 2009.

In the third quarter, Nokia, the world's largest cell phone company, shipped the most smart phones: a total of 26.5 million smart phones, which gave it 32.7 percent of the market. Apple came in second, shipping 14.1 million iPhones and taking 17.4 percent of the market. RIM, which had been in second place last year, took third place, shipping 12.4 million BlackBerry handsets and cornering 15.3 percent of the smart phone market.

Nokia and RIM actually lost market share year over year even though they shipped more phones than they did in the third quarter of 2009. And Apple shipped nearly twice as many iPhones this year but its market share only rose a fraction of a percent.

Two smaller players in the smart phone market that make a variety of phones that run Google's Android operating software — Samsung and HTC — were big gainers as far as market share was concerned. Samsung shipped 7.2 million phones in the quarter, compared with 1.3 million last year. And HTC shipped 5.8 million handsets, compared with 2.1 million the year before.

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