Apple experienced a bit of a setback in the U.S. smartphone market during the first quarter after coming out of nowhere last year to rank among the top companies.
According to data compiled by IDC, Apple's still the second-leading smartphone maker in the U.S. behind Research in Motion and the BlackBerry franchise. But it lost market share going from the fourth quarter to the first at the expense of RIM and Palm, according to the figures provided by IDC analyst Ramon Llamas.
RIM's market share went from 35.1 percent in the fourth quarter to 44.5 percent in the first, while Apple's dropped from 26.7 percent in the fourth quarter to 19.2 percent in the first. Palm's Centro lifted that company's market share to 13.4 percent in the first quarter, up from 7.9 percent in the fourth. Samsung and HTC ranked fourth and fifth in the U.S. market with 8.6 percent and 4.1 percent of the market, respectively.
During its most recent earnings call, Apple revealed that it sold 1.7 million iPhones, which was down from the 2.3 million units it sold during the fourth-quarter holiday shopping season. Both RIM and Palm grew their shipments on a quarter-by-quarter basis over roughly the same time period, although the dates don't match up precisely with Apple because RIM and Palm are on slightly different fiscal calendars.
It's not exactly clear what might have led to the decline. Both RIM and Palm have intensified their pursuit of consumer smartphone users, RIM from the high end with devices like the Curve and Pearl and Palm from the low end with the $99 Centro.Given the iPhone shortages that have been going on for several weeks ahead of iPhone 2.0's expected debut next Monday, Apple might have also lost share this quarter. But the company has consistently reiterated its intention to ship 10 million units in 2008, the first full calendar year the iPhone has been on sale. RIM sold 14 million BlackBerrys during its 2008 fiscal year, which ended on March 1.