Apple’s latest record-breaking iPhone sales was enough to make the Cupertino, Calif. company the No. 4 mobile phone vendor worldwide, passing BlackBerry maker Research in Motion, according to research firm IDC. Although Apple has consistently scored among top smartphone vendors, this is the first time the iPhone maker has made it into the top ranks of general cell phone providers.
As a result, RIM pushed Sony Ericcson out of the top five for the first time in six years, according to IDC.
“The entrance of Apple in the top 5 vendor ranking underscores the increased importance of smartphones to the overall market,” said Kevin Restivo, IDC senior research analyst. “Moreover, the mobile phone makers that are delivering popular smartphone models are among the fastest growing firms,” he added.
Apple topped all competitors when it came to growth. Compared to 90.5 percent year-over-year for the Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple, third place LG slipped, its shipments falling 10 percent from 31.6 percent in the third quarter of 2009 to 28.4 million in the same period in 2010.
For its part, RIM had the second-best growth percentage, racking up a 45.9 percent hike in shipments over the third quarter of last year. Apple CEO Steve Jobs recently crowed that “We’ve now passed RIM,” a claim apparently bolstered by the IDC numbers. Jobs added he did not see RIM catching Apple “in the foreseeable future” and that it would be a “challenge” to convice developers to join the handset platform.
RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie shot back that Apple compared its September quarter to the Canadian company’s August period, when “industry demand in September is typically stronger than summer months.” However, RIM shipped 12.4 million phones in the September period compared to 14.1 million (a record) iPhones in the third quarter.