One analyst thinks that if it wasn't for the iPhone, smartphone growth would have slowed to a crawl last quarter.
Charlie Wolf of Needham & Company released some data Tuesday, as captured by MacNN, and said he believes that Apple's iPhone accounted for virtually all the sequential growth in the market during the third quarter, which totaled 28.6 percent. That's when Apple launched the iPhone 3G and sold 6.9 million units, putting it in second place among all smartphone vendors with 16.6 percent of the market.
At first glance it seems a bit of a stretch to give Apple sole credit for keeping smartphone growth alive during the period. But market leader Nokia posted a lackluster quarter, and the smartphone market has been growing at a much faster clip than that for some time now. Wolf thinks that had the iPhone 3G not been such a hit, smartphone growth would have slowed to a trickle.
That might not bode well for the current quarter, as Wolf notes that as many as 2 million iPhones sold during the third quarter might have been designated for the channel, and not actually sold to real people until the fourth quarter. That could mean smartphone growth is going to flatline this holiday season or even fall as Apple's carrier partners work through channel inventory and the economy dampens demand. But Wolf thinks Apple and RIM are in decent shape because consumers--especially in the U.S.--are showing a preference for integrated hardware/software phones like the iPhone and BlackBerry.