The Cupertino-based electronics maker ended the quarter with a 5.3 percent share of the global smartphone market, behind Nokia and Research In Motion (RIM), whose sales of 14.58 million and 4.31 million smartphones garnered a 45.2 percent and 13.4 percent share, respectively.
In the US, Apple faired even better by claiming the No. 2 spot overall with a 20 percent share of the market. The iPhone maker, however, remains a distant second to RIM, which maintained its No. 1 US ranking with a share totaling 42 percent.
Overall, Gartner said first quarter worldwide smartphone sales to end users grew 29 percent compared to the same period in 2007, reaching 32.2 million units. The firm added the smartphones accounted for 11 percent of the global mobile device market.
In Europe, Middle East, and Africa, sales of the integrated devices totaled 11.7 million units, a 38.7 percent increase from the first quarter of 2007. Meanwhile, the blistering North American smartphone market saw sales skyrocket by more than 106 percent to 7.3 million units.
"Despite economic concerns, the smartphone market continued to expand in the United States, driven by heavy advertising and strong marketing promotions as more devices reached mass market price points,â said Hugues De La Vergne, principal analyst for mobile terminals research at Gartner. "North American operators are giving these devices strong support, as they provide higher average revenue per unit."
Globally, RIM saw the biggest rise year-over-year, with sales of its BlackBerry handsets more than doubling to reach a growth rate of 107 percent. Nokia took second honors in the growth category with sales of its devices rising more than 25 percent. The biggest loser was Tokyo-based Sharp, whose smartphone sales declined 24 percent to just 1.3 million units.