According to The NPD Group, the leader in market research for the wireless industry, the iPhone 3G surpassed the Motorola RAZR as the leading handset purchased by US adult consumers in the third quarter of 2008.
The RAZR had been ranked as the top-selling consumer handset for the past three years, which means that the iPhone knocking the device from the top spot is no small deal.
“It represents a major shift in handset design from fashion to fashionable functionality,” said Ross Rubin, director of industry analysis for NPD. “Four of the five best-selling handsets in the third quarter were optimized for messaging and other advanced Internet features.”
The top handset models in rank order, based on unit sales in Q3, were as follows:
- Apple iPhone 3G
- Motorola RAZR V3 (all models)
- RIM Blackberry Curve (all models)
- LG Rumor
- LG enV2
This shift in the market leader represents the decreasing demand for the limited functionality of the RAZR coupled with the storming success of the iPhone 3G, which has been incredibly well received by customers. As we have noted previously, the iPhone has already surpassed its sales target of 10 million units this year, even before the holiday rush. It would seem it is set to extend a lead at the top of the mobile phone sales rankings even further over the coming months.
The report highlights the fact that phones which offer a QWERTY style keyboard are seeing faster growth than those with a traditional mobile phone text input. While this could be due to the fact that QWERTY phones are generally ‘smart phones’, offering an additional array of features, it may also represent a shifting demand to a unified input style — regardless of whether you’re using a computer or a phone. While the iPhone’s software-based keyboard was initially controversial, it seems to have been met with a very positive response over time with few major complaints.
Rubin also notes “A growing data divide continues in cellular handsets”, differentiating between buyers who put a high value on data services (internet, email, maps etc), as opposed to those who primarily use their mobile devices for voice services. The iPhone was a revolutionary product in the data category, as it was one of the first to offer an ‘unlimited’ data plan. It was able to satisfy the need of data users on a new level, and the market report shows that it has lead to a hugely successful launch and a quick catapult to the top of the U.S. sales table.
The only question to ask now is how long will the iPhone be able to retain the No. 1 spot. Can Apple break the 3 year record of the Motorola RAZR?