Apple is now the world's third largest smartphone producer, coming in behind Nokia and Research in Motion. IDC's latest report from its Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker cites continued interest in the iPhone and Apple starting to offer the device in China as major driving forces behind the growing dominance in the smartphone world.
Apple shipped 25.1 million iPhone units in 2009, 8.7 million of those in the fourth quarter. By comparison, Nokia shipped 67.7 million device units throughout the year with 20.8 million in the fourth quarter alone. Manufacturers Motorola and HTC round out the top five smartphone makers. It's worth noting that while Apple still trails RIM and Nokia by unit sales, by some estimates the company already surpassed Nokia in Q3 of 2009 by generating more profit from handset sales than any other manufacturer.
A similar report released by AdMob at the end of January also shows the increasing use of the iPhone around the world. The amazing thing is that Nokia, RIM, Motorola and HTC all produce multiple devices while Apple has leapfrogged over into its position with just a single flagship phone, the 3GS. Motorola, which had fallen off the top five list in the past year, scrambled back onto it with the introduction of the Droid. Google's now entering the market, and Symbian is still very strong in Africa and Asia. It'll be interesting to see how Apple fares against these smartphone competitors in the next year.