Apple has ousted Research In Motion (RIM) to become the fourth largest mobile OEM globally, according to research released by the International Data Corporation (IDC).
According to IDC, the worldwide mobile phone market grew 14.6 percent in the third quarter of 2010, the fourth consecutive quarter of double-digit growth. Growth was driven in part by the fast-growing converged mobile device category.
Companies shipped 340.5 million units in the third quarter compared with 297.1 million units in the third quarter of 2009, according to IDC.
Apple moved into the No. 4 position worldwide in the third quarter, joining RIM as one of the world’s largest mobile phone suppliers. RIM has spent three quarters on IDC’s leaderboard. Apple and RIM also posted the highest-growth rates among the Top 5 vendors last quarter.
Apple saw its shipments increase from 7.4 million units in the third quarter of 2009 to 14.1 million units in the third quarter of 2010. Apple’s global market share increased from 2.5 percent in the third quarter of 2009 to 4.1 percent in the third quarter of this year.
Apple leapt ahead of several vendors in the third quarter of 2010 including RIM, which it surpassed by 1.7 million units, and Sony Ericsson by 3.7 million units. The company’s record shipment performance can be attributed to the introduction of the iPhone 4 in 17 new countries last quarter.
“The entrance of Apple to the top five vendor ranking underscores the increased importance of smartphones to the overall market. Moreover, the mobile phone makers that are delivering popular smartphone models are among the fastest growing firms,” said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC’s Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker, in a press release.
Apple, RIM and those vendors producing Android-based smartphones have put noticeable pressure on Nokia, the overall market leader. Nokia continues to lose ground, as multiple Chinese vendors have begun grabbing share of emerging markets.
IDC believes the worldwide mobile phone market will be driven largely by smartphone growth to the end of 2014. “The smartphone is becoming the focal point of the personal communications experience,” noted Restivo. “As a result, new market growth will be increasingly generated by smartphones. This year, we are expecting the smartphone sub-market to grow 55 percent year over year.”