BlackBerry Overthrows Apple iPhone in First Quarter

Research In Motion's BlackBerry smartphone leapt past the Apple iPhone to become the best-selling consumer smartphone in the United States for the first quarter of 2009, according to the research firm The NPD Group. RIM's market share increased by 15 percent to nearly 50 percent of the market in the quarter, buoyed at least in part by a Verizon Wireless promotion.

When it comes to the smartphone wars, Research In Motion scored a bit of a coup in the first quarter of 2009, according to research firm The NPD Group, when its BlackBerry mobile device assumed 50 percent of the U.S. smartphone market, beating out Apple's iPhone. RIM had a full 15 percent jump in market share versus the last quarter of 2008.

At the same time, NPD found that both Apple and Palm experienced declines of roughly 10 percent each.

In the United States, according to NPD, the top-five bestselling smartphones were RIM's BlackBerry Curve (all 8300 models), followed by the Apple iPhone 3G, RIM's BlackBerry Storm, RIM's BlackBerry Pearl (all models except flip) and the T-Mobile G1.

"Verizon Wireless' aggressive marketing of the BlackBerry Storm and its buy-one-get-one BlackBerry promotion to its large customer base contributed to RIM capturing three of the top five positions," Ross Rubin, director of industry analysis at The NPD Group, said in a statement. "The more familiar, and less expensive, Curve benefited from these giveaways and was able to leapfrog the iPhone, due to its broader availability on the four major U.S. national carriers."

Earlier on May 4, RIM announced the release of its BlackBerry Enterprise Server 5.0, designed to increase IT administrators' ability to handle an increasingly mobile enterprise work force; many of the solutions linked to the server allow for increased functionality of the BlackBerry device line for enterprise users.

The BlackBerry Enterprise Server 5.0 integrates with IBM Lotus Domino, Microsoft Exchange and Novell GroupWise, and features increased security for many functions, such as e-mail, organizer data, instant messaging and enterprise applications.

For its part, Apple has been increasing its marketing dollars to try to sell the iPhone as an enterprise device, but a recent survey shows that the devices have found greater penetration in the consumer segment, which uses the App Store to primarily download games. The survey, by Complete, suggests that between 76 to 100 percent of iPhone usage is for personal use.

Apple intends to bring out a new iPhone in the summer of 2009, accompanied by a sturdier iPhone OS 3.0, which suggests that these market share numbers could shift as the year progresses.