Apple Leapfrogs RIM as Fourth Largest Mobile Phone Vendor Worldwide

IDC Q3 2010 market share
(Image courtesy of AppleInsider)

The news just keeps getting worse for Apple’s competitors in the mobile phone market: A new report shows that Cupertino pushed past Blackberry maker Research in Motion in the third quarter to become the fourth largest mobile phone company in the world.

AppleInsider is reporting that IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker report is out for the third quarter of 2010, and it’s got some grim news for Blackberry maker Research in Motion (RIM) — Apple has now stolen the number four spot in worldwide mobile phone sales from the Canadian firm. This is the first time that Apple has cracked the top five on IDC’s list of global cell phone companies, which is topped by Nokia, Samsung and LG in the first three spots.

“The entrance of Apple to the top 5 vendor ranking underscores the increased importance of smartphones to the overall market.” said IDC senior research analyst Kevin Restivo. “Moreover, the mobile phone makers that are delivering popular smartphone models are among the fastest growing firms.”

With RIM being pushed to number five with 12.4 million units shipped compared to Apple’s 14.1 million, it was Sony Ericsson who was toppled from the top five — a first since the inception of the IDC Mobile Phone Tracker report in 2004.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the report is the year-over-year change for most of the companies. Number one Nokia grew a mere 1.8 percent, while number two Samsung fared better at 18.6 percent. LG actually lost ground with -10.1 percent, while Apple was up a whopping 90.5 percent from the previous year, largely due to launching the iPhone 4 in 17 new countries in the third quarter.

The new IDC data would appear to back up Steve Jobs’ claims this month that Apple has passed competitor RIM during the company’s quarterly conference call. “I don’t see them catching up with us in the foreseeable future,” Jobs boasted. “It will be a challenge for them to create a mobile software platform and convince developers to support a third platform,” a reference to iOS and Android being the dominant players in the smartphone market now.

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