According to a recent report by IDC, Apple has joined the ranks of the world’s five largest mobile phone vendors, surpassing Research in Motion (RIM) by 1.7 million units and bumping Sony Ericsson off the list for the first time since IDC began tracking mobile phone market share in 2004. The report indicates that the worldwide mobile phone market grew 14.6% in the third-quarter of 2010, representing the fourth consecutive quarter of double-digit growth with vendors shipping 340.5 million phones in total last quarter compared to 297.1 million units in the third quarter of 2009. The IDC report goes on to note that the smartphone category is growing rapidly and is at least partly responsible for driving the rapid expansion of mobile phone adoption worldwide.
Apple is the second smartphone-only vendor to place in the top five ranking. RIM has already spent three quarters on the IDC leaderboard and both companies posted the highest growth rates among the top five vendors this past quarter. The report attributes Apple’s record performance to the introduction of the iPhone 4 in 17 new countries last quarter, and notes that this performance came despite the July “Antennagate” controversy around reception problems.
Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC’s WorldWide Mobile Phone Tracker notes that “The entrance of Apple to the top 5 vendor ranking underscores the increased importance of smartphones to the overall market. Vendors that aren’t developing a strong portfolio of smartphones will be challenged to maintain and grow market share in the future.” IDC expects the worldwide mobile phone market to be driven primarily by smartphone growth over the next few years, expecting that market to grow 55% year over year. The full report is available from IDC’s web site.