Apple now one of the world's top five mobile phone vendors: report

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The Independent Tech

Apple has leapt ahead of rival vendors RIM and Sony Ericsson to become the world's fourth top mobile phone vendor in the third quarter of 2010.

Record shipments of the company's iPhone line saw a year-on-year increase of more than 90 percent, reaching 14.1 million shipments in 3Q10 said research technology analyst IDC in a report released on October 28.  

Meanwhile, top-selling vendors such as Nokia (in first place) and LG Electronics (in third place) struggled to maintain their market share.

"The entrance of Apple to the top 5 vendor ranking underscores the increased importance of smartphones to the overall market," said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker, adding, "the mobile phone makers that are delivering popular smartphone models are among the fastest growing firms."

The world's second top mobile phone vendor, Samsung, battled the market head on with a steady stream of smartphones (including its flagship Galaxy S), pushing past 70 million unit shipments for the first time in the company's history.

Vendors in the developed world are working hard to update their lines with the high-tech smartphones consumers now crave, however, it's a very different story in the developing world where low-priced feature phones are still driving the majority of sales.

"Nokia still leads all vendors by a significant margin for converged mobile devices and mobile phones as a whole," said Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC's Mobile Devices Technology and Trends team.

"However, Nokia's grip on the traditional mobile phone market has been somewhat loosened, as multiple Chinese vendors have gained ground, especially within emerging markets. To bolster its overall competitiveness, Nokia has been focused on improving its smartphone offerings."

Research in Motion (RIM) also saw a dramatic increase in year-on-year sales during the third quarter, benefiting from releasing its entry-level handset (the Curve 8520) in regions such as Latin America while also focusing its efforts on the high-end market with the more expensive, more powerful Torch smartphone.

Top Five Mobile Phone Vendors - Market Share, Q3 2010
1. Nokia - 32.4%
2. Samsung - 21.0%
3. LG Electronics - 8.3%
4. Apple - 4.1%
5. R.I.M. - 3.6%
Others - 30.5%