It's Official: Smartphones Are Winning

In the last three months of 2010, smartphone shipments doubled all the way up to 101.2 million handsets. Android shipped the most, sure. But the real winners are folks leaving their dumb old feature phones behind.

Android's a big part of that story—615% share growth year over year, according to Canalys, with handsets from every major manufacturer except RIM, Apple, and Nokia. But the ubiquity of Android phones means more than some Google versus Apple scoreboard. The new availability of smartphones, and the budget pricing, means that we're well on our way to everyone carrying an computer in their pocket.

The top five handsets sold last quarter, according to NPD?

1. Apple iPhone 4
2. Motorola Droid X
3. HTC EVO 4G
4. Apple iPhone 3GS
5. Motorola Droid 2

Smartphones, every last one.

And not just because we're an increasingly tech-savvy culture—although that's part of it. It's because when you walk into a store and have the choice between a $50 iPhone 3GS or a $40 phone that just does voice and text, you're going to get the iPhone. It's because you can head over to Amazon a few times a year and pick up a top-of-the-line smartphone for a penny.

Does everyone need a smartphone? Of course not. Just like not everyone needs cupcakes or double coupon days. But everyone can afford one now, at least the hardware. And data plans can be had on the cheap, especially if you do most of your downloading over Wi-Fi.

This isn't a huge sea change. Like all evolutions, it's slow but implacable. And if you're not already a part of it, now is the time. [Canalys via Reuters]