IDC's now assembled a comprehensive look at the phone biz in 2008, and as you might expect, it's not exactly the most amazing year on record. Actually, when you take the year as a whole, shipments totaled a whopping 1.18 billion handsets -- a 3.5 percent boost over 2007 -- but the fourth quarter was downright brutal, seeing a 12.6 percent contraction over the same period a year prior. As analysts have been saying, though, the smartphone market will continue to be the silver lining in a tough market -- shipments of "converged mobile devices" grew 22.5 percent year over year, with North American growth a staggering 70.1 percent. Carriers seem to be recognizing the world's love affair with all-knowing, all-doing phones and plan to blow 'em out big in 2009, but the question remains: with credit tight and businesses losing cash hand-over-fist for the foreseeable future, will the subsidies be compelling enough to let customers in the door?

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Phone shipments plunge 12.6 percent year over year in Q4 '08