Apple becomes top U.S. phone maker during 2010 first quarter

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After fewer than three years on the market, the iPhone has become the top-selling phone in the U.S.

Mentioned briefly by Forbes in a Motorola first-quarter earnings statement, Apple has become the largest U.S. maker of cell phones. In the first quarter of 2010, Apple sold 8.8 million iPhones, while Motorola slipped from the throne to a close second with 8.5 million phones sold.

However, for a bit of sobering cell phone sales context, Forbes notes that just four years ago when the Razr was all the rage, Motorola claimed the top U.S. phone maker spot with a whopping 46.1 million phones sold in the first quarter.

Further, of Motorola’s 8.5 million first-quarter phone sales, only 2.3 million of them were smartphones that actually compete with the iPhone. Motorola’s bread and butter seems to still be “dumb” phones (or what are now loosely called “feature” phones), though its Android-based Droid phone for Verizon helped the company to sell more smartphones than even Motorola predicted for its quarter.

Around the world, the iPhone is also selling well. At Apple’s iPhone OS 4.0 preview event, the company announced that it has sold more than 50 million iPhones, and 35 million iPod touches worldwide. Over the past year, iPhone sales have shot up 72 percent in Japan, a market previously thought to be almost hostile to the Apple’s phone.

Not bad when you consider that, before its launch less than three years ago, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said “There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share.”

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