Apple Doubles its iPhone Market Share


A year ago I was always the only person in the room with an iPhone. I loved it. All the stares, the curious questions, the tentative requests that began, “Would you mind if I tried it out?”

Today I can’t buy a loaf of bread without seeing an iPhone in someone’s hands. I suspected I was just imagining it, but a report from CNet’s Jim Dalrymple yesterday confirms it’s not all in my head; new data released on Wednesday from research firm Gartner shows remarkable growth in year-over-year first-quarter iPhone sales and market share.

Apple’s share of worldwide smartphone sales in the first quarter of 2009 was 10.8 percent, more than double the 5.3 percent share in the first quarter of 2008.

As if that weren’t impressive enough, actual unit sales have exploded, to 1.7 million in the first quarter of 2008 compared with 3.9 million in the same quarter this year. Not too shabby.

Roberta Cozza, a Gartner researcher, attributed smartphone share growth to the integration of the iPhone and other touch-enabled devices with “applications and services around music, mobile email and Internet browsing.” Looks like Apple’s “There’s an app for that” sales focus is paying off.

Traditional mobile phones are seeing a downturn in first-quarter sales, posting a drop of almost 10 percent from 2008’s numbers to “only” 269 million this year. It’s too easy to assume this marks The Rise of the Smartphone in a historical context –- a more likely reason, given the current global economic climate, is that the great majority of people (typically uninterested in smartphones anyway) are looking to save a few bucks. For a lot of people, that means holding on a bit longer to their existing handsets, rather than upgrading.

If that’s true, it makes Apple’s smartphone market share growth all the more impressive.

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