A report today from Gartner Research shows that Apple is rapidly catching up to BlackBerry manufacturer RIM for share of the world smartphone market. The Cupertino, California-based company is currently in third place with 13.3% of the market. RIM is not very far ahead, with 18.7% of the market. Their lead over Apple has been disintegrating over the last year thanks to increased 3GS sales, and a lack of recent innovation from RIM.
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The smartphone market as a whole has seen a growth of 27% over the second quarter of 2009, while worldwide mobile phone sales have actually declined by 6%. The reasons for this aren't difficult to puzzle out. The cell phone market is reaching total saturation; everyone already has a mobile phone. While that market has little-to-no room for growth, the smartphone market is booming. People who were early cell phone adopters already own smartphones, and now the devices have caught on with the general public.
Forty million smartphone handsets were sold this quarter, which represents a staggering amount of mobile browsing. It's no wonder so many online businesses are starting to cater to smartphone users. A substantial amount of browsing worldwide is now done on phones.
In this brave new mobile world, Apple is quickly becoming king. Nokia didn't have a particularly strong quarter this year, and RIM has dropped close to 2 points since Q1 of this year. Apple, on the other hand, is as vigorous as ever, thanks in large part to the enormous success of the iPhone 3GS.
Apple is establishing dominance in the smartphone field early. They know that one day soon the smartphone market will reach saturation. At that point, only the manufacturers who have managed to build a substantial and loyal user base, used to their products, are going to survive. Apple intends to not only live, but to be at the head of that pack. And right now, I'm not sure anyone can stop them from succeeding.