RIM continues slide in smartphone market share: Gartner

Apple Inc. saw record sales of its iPhone during the fourth quarter of 2011, becoming the world’s top smartphone vendor as Research in Motion (RIM) recorded disappointing results, according to Gartner Inc.

The Stamford, Ct.-based IT analyst firm today released its analysis of worldwide mobile devices sales during the last three months of 2011. It shows nearly a 50 per cent increase in smartphone sales compared to the same quarter in 2010 with 149 million units sold. Apple also jumped to third mobile device vendor by sales, following Nokia and Samsung.

Apple now claims 7.4 per cent of the global market share for mobile devices, compared to 3.5 per cent of market share in Q4 of 2010. It sold over 35 million units in the last quarter of 2011, compared to more than 111 million for Nokia and 92 million for Samsung. RIM dipped in sales, with 13.1 million units in the same period, compared to 14.7 million a year previous.

RIM slid to seventh place in mobile phone vendors with the 10.7 per cent decline in sales, Gartner says.

RIM had originally been planning to launch its BlackBerry 10 platform on a new line of smartphones in the first quarter of this year, but announced at the end of 2011 those phones would be delayed until Q4 of 2012. The news was announced shortly after RIM lost the right to call its new platform BBX due to a court decision on a trademark dispute.

The delay “will further impair its ability to retain users,” Gartner says in the report. “RIM’s biggest challenge is still to expand the developer base around its ecosystem and convince developers to work and innovate with BlackBerry 10.”

In terms of smartphone operating systems, Android and iOS were the big winners in Q4 of 2011. Android claimed the number one spot from Symbian, claiming just over half of the market and increasing from a 30 per cent share a year ago. Apple’s OS also surpassed Symbian with 23.8 per cent share of the market.

RIM maintained its fourth place spot, but declined from 14.6 per cent share in Q4 2010 to 8.8 per cent in 2011.

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