According to IDC, smartphone manufacturers shipped 100.9 million devices in the fourth quarter of 2010, while PC manufacturers shipped 92.1 million units worldwide. Or, more simply put, smartphones just outsold PCs for the first time ever.

The number of smartphones sold in Q4 2010 was up 87.2% from the 53.9 million sold in Q4 2009. For the year, vendors shipped 302.6 million smartphones – an increase of 74.4% from the 173.5 million in 2009.

PC sales were up in Q4, too, but just barely. From Q4 2009 to Q4 2010, the increase was only 5.5%. When looking at the yearly totals, however, PCs were still king. Manufacturers shipped 346.2 million units during 2010, compared with the 302.6 million mentioned above from smartphone makers.

How the Top Vendors Fared

IDC says that Nokia was still the top manufacturer during 2010, with 28.3 million units shipped in Q4. Apple was number two for the quarter, at 16.2 million, followed by RIM (14.6 million), Samsung (9.7 million) then HTC (8.6 million).

Nokia benefitted both from the 5 million units combined of its Symbian^3 phones – the N8, C7 and C601 – but most of its sales came from older devices.

Meanwhile, Apple gained ground thanks to increased volume in the Asia/Pacific region and specifically, Japan. It has also continued to make inroads in the enterprise market.

RIM is still popular in North America, especially its BlackBerry Torch and BlackBerry Curve 3G deivces, but its driving growth actually came from outside North America. RIM posted nearly identical year-over-year growth for both the quarter and for 2010, said IDC.

Both Samsung and HTC benefitted from their diverse portfolios, which, of course, include Android. According to Ramon Llama, senior analyst in IDC’s Mobile Phone Technology and Trends team, “Android continues to gain by leaps and bounds, helping to drive the smartphone market, It has become the cornerstone of multiple vendors’ smartphone strategies, and has quickly become a challenger to market leader Symbian.”