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iPhone becomes top handset in U.S., passing RAZR

November 10, 2008 |  9:45 am

Iphone Move over, Motorola. The iPhone has shaved away your lead in the mobile phone market, passing the RAZR to become the top handset purchased by U.S. adult consumers in the third quarter of 2008, according to the research firm NPD Group. The RAZR had held onto the top spot for 12 quarters.

Consumers are buying more iPhones than RAZRs because there is a "watershed shift in handset design from fashion to fashionable functionality," said Ross Rubin, NPD's director of industry analysis. That means consumers don't care only about looking cool anymore -- they want to look cool with a phone that doesn't have an 18% failure rate.

Research In Motion's Blackberry Curve came in third in NPD's ranking. A different report last week, from Canalys, found that the iPhone had passed RIM and Motorola to gain a 17.3% share in the smartphone market. That report showed Nokia still hanging onto first place globally. RIM could be hurting because the Blackberry has twice the failure rate of the iPhone.

Still, according to NPD, the jump in iPhone sales wasn't enough to stave off a slowdown in U.S. phone sales overall. Phone purchases declined 15% in the third quarter from the same period last year. Revenue fell 10%.

It's unclear if the iPhone rush will continue: NPD said mobile phones with QWERTY keyboards saw the greatest year-over-year rise in sales. About 30% of handsets sold in the third quarter had QWERTY keyboards. And as all of us fat-fingered people know, a tactile keyboard is not one of the iPhone's many assets.

-- Alana Semuels

Photo: The iPhone and the RAZR. Credit: Parislemon via Flickr