Apple in third place as smartphone shipments soar

Nokia and RIM dominate the worldwide market for smartphones, but Apple's right there in just its first year in the market, and it's doing even better in the U.S.

Apple has managed to develop the third-best selling smartphone in the world, according to a new report from Canalys.

The market researcher's latest tally of the "smart mobile device" market found that Apple's iPhone had 6.5 percent of the worldwide market in the fourth quarter. That might not sound like a lot, but it's good enough for third place behind Nokia, which has a whopping 53 percent of the market, and Research In Motion, which has 11.4 percent. And last year, of course, Apple had 0.0 percent of this market.

Canalys doesn't provide an exact definition of what exactly constitutes a "smart mobile device" in the press release touting the research, but said it's talking about smartphones, handhelds, and wireless handhelds. That segment comprised about 35.5 million devices in the fourth quarter, a small fraction of the overall cell phone market's 300 million units in the fourth quarter.

Apple's iPhone is the third-leading smartphone in the world, behind Nokia and RIM. CNET Networks

But it's growing quickly: 60 percent from 2006 to 2007, and 71 percent from last year's fourth quarter to this year's, according to Canalys. Asia and Europe purchase the bulk of the world's smartphones, but shipments to the U.S. doubled last year.

In the U.S., Apple's actually in second place behind RIM's BlackBerry, outpacing Palm and, believe it or not, all Windows Mobile devices combined. The company managed fifth place in Europe during the quarter, despite shipping the iPhone in just the U.K., Germany, and France--and starting almost midway through the quarter .

Don't see 6.5 percent and assume that Apple has already hit CEO Steve Jobs' goal of 1 percent market share by the end of 2008. Jobs was referring to the overall market at the time the iPhone was launched , which was doing about 1 billion units a year. Still, it's excellent progress for Apple in its first year in the market, and shows that even if Apple can't control how people use the iPhone, people want it.

Another interesting tidbit from the release: Shipments of Linux-based smartphones were flat in 2007, despite the strong growth in almost every other segment of the market. That's Google's hope for Android, that it can take the promise of a mobile operating system based on Linux and actually get some traction.

About the author

    Tom Krazit writes about the ever-expanding world of Google, as the most prominent company on the Internet defends its search juggernaut while expanding into nearly anything it thinks possible. He has previously written about Apple, the traditional PC industry, and chip companies. E-mail Tom.

     

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