The iPhone is undeniably slick, with powerful hardware, good battery life, a capable music platform, and a thriving applications ecosystem. But in terms of contract and cost of the phone, it remains pricey. And its business applications and features still trail those of Research In Motion's Blackberry.
Those factors combined to sink the Apple iPhone to the second spot in smartphone sales after a strong 2008, which saw it take over the top spot. The iPhone sold so well, that for part of last year, it was America's bestselling phone overall including traditional phones.
Moving into first place was the Blackberry Curve, which covers several Blackberry 83xx models according to Apple Inisider. Coming in a close third was the Blackberry Storm, and the Blackberry Pearl took fourth (excluding the flip variety). The fifth spot was occupied by T-Mobile's G1 phone, the first phone to feature Google's Android OS.
The trouncing that RIM laid on Apple and its other competitors grew the company's smart phone market share 15 percent to seize a commanding 50 percent of the market. Palm, which is awaiting the release of the much-anticipated Pre, and Apple, meanwhile, saw their market shares sink 10 percent.
Market research firm NPD says that Blackberry pricing was made even sweeter by Verizon's aggressive "buy-one-get-one" promotion, which gave RIM the momentum it needed to dominate the sales charts. Analyst Ross Rubin states, "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."
Globally, smartphones now account for 23 percent of the cell phone market, rising 6 percent on a year to year basis. Given the troubled financial state of many consumers, Mr. Rubin calls this a very good sign for smart phone makers and evidence that customers are continuing to "(migrate) toward Web-capable handsets and their supporting data plans to access more information and entertainment on the go."
RIM reported previously record sales of 7.8 million Blackberries in the year's first quarter, while Apple posted weaker sales of 3.79 million units.