Apple narrows RIM’s lead in smartphone market

Apple is catching up fast with Research In Motion in the smartphone market, according to IDC.

The company’s increased its market share from 10.9 percent a year ago to 16.1 percent for the first quarter of this year, while RIM’s share has slipped from 20.9 percent to 19.4 percent.

In general, the smartphone market grew at twice the rate of the mobile phone market overall, with 54.7 million units shipped during the quarter.

“2010 looks to be another year of large-scale consumer adoption of converged mobile devices,” says Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC’s Mobile Devices Technology and Trends team.

“Consumers will gravitate to smartphones not just because the devices themselves look ‘cool’ and ‘slick’, but because the overall experience aligns with their individual tastes and demands. Users are seeking – and finding – experiences that are intuitive, seamless, and fun.”

And sales are set to carry on rising, says IDC, thanks to cheaper data plans and the glimmer of economic recovery. New updates for BlackBerry, Symbian and Windows Mobile will also bring a boost.

“More consumers are aware of smartphones now due to positive referrals from friends and family and manufacturer’s mass media campaigns,” said Kevin Restivo, senior analyst with IDC’s Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker.

“Coupled with increased confidence on the part of consumers, these factors will create a perfect storm of demand for suppliers this year.”