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smartphones_frontOn the day of Google’s much anticipated Nexus One smartphone event and launch, Forrester Research has released results from a survey that confirm what we really all suspect: that smartphones are one of the hottest growth sectors in our economy right now. Usage continues to grow, even after significant growth over the past two years.

The report, conducted in October and November, found that 17 percent of US adults used smartphones, up from 11 percent in 2008 and 7 percent in 2007.

Forrester notes that the term “smartphone” is still lacks a universal definition, but Forrester takes a stab at its own definition: connected devices that use a “high-level operating system, including including iPhone OS, BlackBerry OS, Windows Mobile, PalmOS, WebOS, Symbian, and any flavor of Linux including Android.”

The survey also shows that Blackberry continues to dominate the smartphone arena — holding on to a 2-to-1 advantage over Apple’s iPhone. Forrester attributes RIM’s dominance to wide availability as well as affordable pricing.

Forrester Analyst Charles Golvin notes that nearly one in every three US adult mobile phone subscribers now has either a smartphone or a quick message device (QMD), up from one in five less than a year earlier. QMDs, as defined by Forrester, are devices that run on proprietary software and not on a high level operating system. These often get confused as smartphones because they may have a qwerty keyboard or touchscreen, and thus look like a smartphone, but their proprietary software means they aren’t as interoperable as full smartphones.

With launches of devices like Google’s Nexus One today, and many others in 2010, smartphone usage is sure to continue to grow. The question that remains is which devices and carriers will come out on top?

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