Apple broke into the top five of global handset vendors by shipments during 3Q, displacing Sony Ericsson and bumping RIM down to fifth place, IDC says.
The research firm says the entrance of a second smartphone-only vendor to the top tier of the market highlights the growing popularity of converged devices, and notes that Apple and RIM posted the highest growth rates of the top five players.
Apple’s shipments grew 90.5% year-on-year during the quarter, and RIM’s 45.9%.
"Vendors that aren't developing a strong portfolio of smartphones will be challenged to maintain and grow market share in the future,” senior research analyst Kevin Restivo says.
That would be bad news for Nokia, which held onto its top slot in terms of 3Q shipments only due to strong sales of its low- and mid-tier devices.
The vendor is coming under increasing pressure from Apple, RIM and a host of rivals producing Android devices, IDC notes.
It is banking on several new smartphones running the Symbian ^3 operating system to lift its game from 4Q on, however doubts exist as to how successful the products will be following poor initial reviews of the software on its flagship N8 smartphone.
However, the vendor also faces pressure in lower-tier devices, as “multiple Chinese vendors have gained ground, especially within emerging markets,” senior analyst Ramon Llamas says.
IDC says the overall handset market grew 14.6% year-on-year during 3Q10, with 340.5 million units shipped.
Nokia topped the list with a market share of 32.4%, with Samsung second (21%), LG third (8.3%), followed by Apple and RIM on 4.1% and 3.6% respectively.
The research firm predicts smartphone sales will drive the market over the next four years, fuelled by a 55% rise in shipments during 2010.