Apple innovation "wake-up call" to competition
It may be shiny and new in the smart phone club but Apple has already grabbed enough market share to overtake Motorola on the handset leaderboard.
Latest stats from analyst house Canalys show Apple cut itself a 6.5 per cent chunk of the smart phone market in the last quarter of 2007, flogging more than 2,320,000 iPhones and stepping into line behind head-and-shoulders-above-the-rest Nokia - which shipped more than 18.8 million devices in the same period (a 52.9 per cent share).
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Second place RIM offloaded more than four million BlackBerrys, giving it an 11.4 per cent share of the market. Motorola managed to sell just over 2,301,000 devices in the quarter, lagging slightly behind Apple.
Total global smart phone shipments more than doubled last year, growing to 118 million units - up 53 per cent on 2006.
Converged device shipments - which lumps smart phones together with PDA-style wireless handheld devices that also offer voice functionality (a distinction which seems increasingly archaic) - rose 72 per cent year-on-year in the last quarter of 2007, the highest growth seen all year.
Pete Cunningham, senior analyst at Canalys, said Apple has issued a "wake-up call" to the market with its user interface innovation which has caused competitors to take a long hard look at their less slick offerings, prompting "a lot of design activity".
This view is shared by Jason Chapman, research VP at Gartner. "Apple have shown how easy it can be," he told silicon.com.
But the Mac-maker will need to have a few more tricks up its sleeve if it is to continue to thrive in the smart phone space, according to Canalys' Cunningham.
He said in a statement: "What it [Apple] must demonstrate now is that it can build a sustainable business in the converged device space, expanding its coverage and product portfolio. It will also need to ensure that the exclusive relationships that got it so far so quickly do not prove to be a limit on what it can achieve."
Cunningham added: "Experience shows that a vendor with only one smart phone design, no matter how good that design is, will soon struggle. A broad, continually refreshed portfolio is needed to retain and grow share in this dynamic market."