Smartphone sales boom 78%

Apple passed BlackBerry maker Research In Motion in smartphone shipments in the third quarter, according to research firm Strategy Analytics, bolstering Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ case that the company is surpassing its rivals.

However, the larger news from the Strategy Analytics report may not be about the dueling smartphone makers but about the wider market. According to the firm, there were 77.1 million smartphone shipments in the third quarter–a whopping 78 percent increase from the year-ago quarter.

Apple shipped 14.1 million units in the quarter, compared with 12.4 million for RIM, according to Strategy Analytics. Apple’s Jobs stoked tensions earlier this month when he said during the company earnings conference call that he doesn’t “see them catching up with us in the foreseeable future.” RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie fired back in a blog post, arguing Jobs’ sales comparison was off base because RIM’s quarter included more summer months, when consumers typically purchase fewer smartphones. Strategy Analytics analyst Neil Mawston said the growth in the overall smartphone market bodes well for the holiday shopping season. However, Mawston noted, the increases could put even more pressure on smartphone component suppliers, which have struggled all year to keep pace with demand. Indeed, shipments of several high-profile smartphones, including the HTC Incredible and Evo, were impacted by component shortages.

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