by Tom Kaneshige

BlackBerry Curve Doesn’t Strike Out Apple iPhone

May 06, 2009 2 mins
Enterprise Applications

Is this the beginning of the end for the iPhone? Relax, analysts say.

The Blackberry Curve outsold the Apple iPhone in consumer sales in the first quarter of this year, according to research group NPD. The popular iPhone had held the title of top selling consumer smartphone for the last two quarters.

All tallied, the top five best-selling smartphones so far this year: Curve, iPhone, Storm, Pearl and T-Mobile’s G1. NPD says the Curve overtook the iPhone thanks to a “buy-one-get-one-free” promotion by Verizon Wireless. Four wireless carriers support the Curve, while the iPhone is tied up in an exclusive contract with AT&T.

Nevertheless, the Curve’s iPhone beatdown shocked and confused many mainstream pundits. It was as if the earth’s polar magnetic fields suddenly flipped. Among tech analysts, though, cooler heads prevailed.

“I don’t think Apple is hell-bent on being the number one smartphone sold,” says Forrester Research analyst Charles Golvin. “They posted extremely good numbers, are driving significant net adds for AT&T, and their users are heavily engaged with the App Store which drives additional revenue and increases loyalty. There is plenty of room in the market for both Apple and RIM to be successful.”

Sure, Apple can grab marketshare if it lowers prices and opens up the iPhone to other carriers. Apple is reportedly in talks with Verizon, although a deal sounds unlikely. Eventually, the iPhone will regain its title over the Curve, says Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney. But Apple couldn’t care less, he says.

The smartphone market is bubbling with excitement as Apple readies a new iPhone in the next few months and the Palm Pre is set to launch in the same time frame. “There is plenty of growth for all,” Dulaney says. “Apple will introduce their new model in the summer and drive sales that way.”