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BlackBerry Curve sales surge ahead of iPhone in first quarter

May 4, 2009 | 12:14 pm

Curve
Customers liked the BlackBerry Curve in the first quarter. Credit: Marvin Kuo via Flickr

Apple, you've been temporarily unseated. Research In Motion's BlackBerry Curve was the best-selling consumer smartphone in the first quarter, according to industry research firm The NPD Group. Apple's iPhone came in second, but two other BlackBerry models -- the Storm and the Pearl -- were right behind, in third and fourth place.

RIM's consumer smartphone market share increased by 15% percent, to 50%, in the quarter, as Apple's share dropped by 10%.

NPD attributes the change in rankings to aggressive Verizon Wireless ad campaigns that pitched the BlackBerry Storm and a BOGO (that's buy one, get one) on BlackBerrys.

"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," Ross Rubin, director of industry analysis at NPD, said in a report.

A lesson there: It can be an advantage not to be tied to one carrier, especially if customers complain loudly about said carrier.

Palm probably doesn't want to hear that. It's set to launch the Pre, its answer to the iPhone, soon, potentially in two weeks. The Pre will be available exclusively on Sprint Nextel. Palm's share of the smartphone market declined 10% in the first quarter, according to NPD.

Of course, these rankings change all the time. The Curve could get more of a foothold because AT&T announced today the availability of a new BlackBerry Curve -- the 8900, which it says is the thinnest QWERTY BlackBerry keyboard yet and has a faster Internet connection.

But it's possible the iPhone could shoot back up again if Verizon Wireless gets the iPhone. Or maybe that will make it slip more. Or maybe everyone everywhere will buy the Pre, and there will be a new addition to the top five. It's anyone's game.

-- Alana Semuels

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