Apple Becomes Fourth-Largest Mobile Phone Vendor

Research firm IDC yesterday released results for global mobile phone unit sales in the third quarter of 2010, highlighting Apple's leap into the top five vendors to grab the fourth spot behind Nokia, Samsung, and LG, and ahead of Research in Motion.

Apple leapt ahead of several vendors in 3Q10 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 record performance came despite "Antennagate," the name used to describe the controversy around alleged iPhone reception problems, in July.

Apple's 90.5% year-over-year growth dramatically outpaced the overall industry's 14.6% increase.

The report points to the key role smartphones are playing in the growth of the broader mobile phone industry, with Apple and Research in Motion both having joined the top five overall mobile phone vendors over the past few quarters and showing the strongest growth among those companies. Based on expectations of a continuation of that trend, IDC projects that the smartphone market will grow by 55% this year.