Research In Motion’s BlackBerry Curve (pictured below) outsold the Apple iPhone 3G during the first quarter, emerging as the leading smartphone device in the increasingly popular market, a Port Washington, New York-based wireless industry research firm is reporting.
Officials at The NPD Group say an aggressive “buy-one-get-one” promotion from Verizon (News - Alert) Wireless helped fuel Curve sales. Overall, RIM picked up 15 percent of the consumer smartphone market in the first three months of 2009, and now holds nearly half of that market, while Apple’s (News - Alert) share dropped about 10 percent, as did Palm’s.
RIM now holds three of the “top 5” model positions – with its BlackBerry Curve (all 83XX models), Storm touchscreen device and basic Pearl model (not including the flip). Apple’s iPhone 3G ranks second while the Google (News - Alert) Android-based T-Mobile G1 ranks fifth.
Ross Rubin, NPD’s director of industry analysis, said Verizon’s aggressive marketing led to the stellar RIM performance.
“The more familiar, and less expensive, Curve benefited from these giveaways and was able to leapfrog the iPhone, due to its broader availability on the four major U.S. national carriers,” Rubin added.
That’s a critical point. While all four major carriers support the Curve, only AT&T (News - Alert) supports the iPhone.
It’s a great deal for AT&T – at least for now.
Recently, rumors that IT industry experts say should frighten AT&T terribly are emerging, as talk resurfaces that Verizon could emerge as a carrier for the iPhone.
It isn’t clear how much credence we should give the rumors, but a Verizon-supported iPhone could spell disaster for AT&T. As TMC President Rich Tehrani (News - Alert) writes, AT&T’s recent earnings report reveals how heavily the company relies on its iPhone business.
The rumors, which have circulated for months, have a ring of truth to them and help make sense of AT&T’s recently disclosed plan to double the capacity of its 3G networks.
Ultimately, of course, a multi-carrier-supported iPhone could reverse the upward trend for RIM, whose domination of the smartphone market took a hit with the mere introduction of the iPhone 3G last summer.
Make no mistake – smartphones are on the rise. One year ago, smartphones composed just 17 percent of handset sales volume – now they make up 23 percent of sales.
“Even in this challenging economy, consumers are migrating toward Web-capable handsets and their supporting data plans to access more information and entertainment on the go,” Rubin said.
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Michael Dinan is a contributing editor for TMCnet, covering news in the IP communications, call center and customer relationship management industries. To read more of Michael's articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Michael Dinan