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Survey shows iPhone threatens BlackBerry; Palm holds steady

ChangeWave's survey of consumers shows overall smartphone ownership is double what it was two years ago.

A recent survey shows that while Research In Motion continues to lead as the smartphone of choice among consumers, Apple's iPhone is quickly catching up.

ChangeWave Research on Tuesday released the results of its week-long September survey of 4,255 consumers, which showed that RIM retains its lead in smartphone ownership with 40 percent market share. That's actually a dip of 1 percentage point since the last survey in June, and the lowest share RIM has registered in two years.

Despite having more models of smartphones, RIM is facing serious competition from Apple, whose iPhone has 30 percent market share among those surveyed. That's an increase of 5 percentage points since June, when the new iPhone 3GS was released.

Apple RIM Palm
ChangeWave Research

Among the same group, Palm has maintained a 7 percent share since June. Though it didn't see any growth even with the introduction of the Palm Pre and more recently the Pixi, the two new WebOS-based phones are helping the company to not lose share. Palm has seen its market share of smartphone ownership erode steadily from its peak of 36 percent in June 2006.

When including all manufacturers, the smartphone market is clearly gaining momentum. ChangeWave reports that 39 percent of those polled in September now own a smartphone, an increase of 2 percentage points since June, but more importantly, double the ownership of consumers polled two years ago.

And that momentum is something that PC makers are taking notice of, according to research also released Tuesday from Gartner. The analyst firm believes that more PC makers will start making smartphones to tap into those consumer dollars being spent in that segment. There's far more opportunity for them to court first-time smartphone owners than first-time laptop owners.

Smartphone revenue is expected to reach $191 million by 2012, which is more money than the $152 million users are expected to spend on laptops, according to Gartner. Apple, Sony, Dell, and Acer are the device makers that currently, or have announced they will, sell laptops as well as smartphones.