BlackBerry outpaces iPhone in first quarter in US: IDC

BlackBerry outpaces iPhone in first quarter in US: IDC

Research in Motion (RIM) Ltd.'s BlackBerry outpaced Apple Inc.'s iPhone in U.S. first quarter sales, and actually increased the gap between the two when compared with the last quarter of 2007, according to research by IDC.

The first quarter report shows that BlackBerry took 44.5 % of the U.S. market, up from 35.1% in the fourth quarter of last year, said Ramon Llamas, an analyst at IDC.

At the same time, the iPhone's U.S. market share dropped to 19.2% for first quarter, down from 26.7% of the market in the fourth quarter of 2007, Llamas said. A drop in the first quarter could be expected, he said, since the fourth quarter includes the holiday shopping season.

But RIM has undertaken a strong consumer marketing campaign, including slick TV ads, to move well beyond its typical business customer base toward more mainstream buyers, Llamas and other analysts have noted.

IDC does not publish actual sales numbers, which were shared by some of its customers and then confirmed by him in a telephone interview. Nor did he reveal the total number of smart phones sold. IDC defines BlackBerry and iPhone devices as smart phones, which are cell phones combined with high-end operating systems and featuring Web surfing, e-mail and full alphabetic keyboards or touchscreen keyboards.

Llamas also said that Palm Inc. also gained market share from the fourth quarter of 2007 to the first quarter of this year, increasing from 7.9% to 13.4%. Despite that jump, Palm's share is still less than the 23% it held in the first quarter of 2007. Similarly, RIM's market share for the first quarter is down from 48.7% in the first quarter of 2007.

Samsung Electronics had an 8.6% market share in first quarter, ranking it fourth, while Motorola Corp. dropped to 2.6% of the market.

Microsoft officials have touted Windows Mobile, an operating system that runs on many devices from four manufacturers, as having the largest smart phone market share of any single operating system. But Llamas said he could not confirm that fact, since Windows Mobile devices are hard to count and sometimes include ruggedized devices that don't directly compare to the iPhone or BlackBerry.

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