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Gartner: Apple's record quarter made it world's No. 7 cell phone maker

New data released Wednesday by research firm Gartner shows Apple as the No. 7 overall worldwide cell phone maker, with a total 2.7 percent market share.

Gartner's numbers show Apple having sold 8.4 million iPhones in the first calendar quarter of 2010, listed as "terminal sales to end users." The total is less than the 8.75 million handset sales Apple reported for the January-through-March period in its quarterly earnings.

Gartner's figures show Apple growing from 3.9 million iPhones sold in the first quarter of 2009, when the company had a 1.5 percent share of the total cell phone market. The 2010 numbers show Apple behind rivals Motorola, Research in Motion and Nokia.

The numbers, however, contradict those from earlier this week released by iSuppli, which showed Apple edging Motorola to become the No. 6 overall cell phone maker in the world. Motorola, in iSuppli's tally, came in eighth. The iSuppli numbers were listed as shipments in the first quarter of 2010, while Gartner's tally cites sales.

Both sets of data agree on the top cell phone maker, Nokia, with well over 100 million handsets moved in the quarter. Samsung came in second and LG took third in both.

Gartner said Apple saw a 112.2 percent increase in mobile device sales in the first quarter of 2010, representing its strongest quarter ever.

"Growth came partly from new communication service providers in established markets, such as the UK, and stronger sales in new markets such as China and South Korea," said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner. "The second quarter of 2010 will be a very important one for Apple. We expect that Apple will present its new iPhone in June during its Worldwide Developer Conference, which will be the first to feature the latest release of the iPhone OS that includes welcome improvements for developers and users, such as multitasking."

Apple was also cited as a winner in the mobile operating system market, representing 15.4 percent of all smartphones sold to end users in the first three months of 2010. Apple was behind only Nokia's Symbian, in first, and Research in Motion, in second, with the iPhone maker taking third. Apple was one of only two OS vendors among the top five in the world to increase its market share year-over-year.

The other platform that saw an increase was Google's Android, which grew from just a 1.6 percent market share in 2009 to 9.6 percent in the first quarter of 2010. Smartphones represented 17.3 percent of all mobile handset sales in the three months to start 2010, up from 13.6 percent a year prior.

The numbers show that Android's current market share of 9.6 percent is less than Apple's was a year ago, when the iPhone held 10.5 percent of the mobile OS market. Android's first-quarter 2010 sales of 5.2 million are also less than the 8.4 million iPhone OS smartphone sales reported by Gartner.

But Android also moved ahead of Microsoft's Windows Mobile for the first time ever in the three-month period, according to Gartner.

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"As seen with the iPad and web books based on Google's Android platform, mobile OS ecosystems are developing and will move beyond smartphones to continue to deliver consumer value and a rich user experience," said Roberta Cozza, principal research analyst at Gartner.