Apple closing in on Nokia as world's largest handset maker

As Nokia looks over its shoulder, Apple pushes on with Android in hot pursuit

Apple has muscled into second-place in the worldwide handset market, further eroding Nokia’s diminishing marketshare. The other big winners, compared to the first quarter of 2010, were Samsung and HTC, who are both heavily assoiciated with Google's Android platform.

According to research from IDC analysts, the ubiquitious iPhone 4 now makes up nearly 20 per cent of the market, shipping 19 million mobile devices in the first quarter, only five million units shy of Nokia, who shipped 24 million units.

While Nokia is still comfortably the world’s largest manufacturer of handsets, especially in developing countries, they now have less than a quarter of the market, compared to nearly two-fifths of the smartphone market 12 months ago.

Finnish saunas will be crammed with Nokia’s top execs hoping that their recent high-profile affiliation to Microsoft will be the start of it stealing hearts and minds back from Apple and Android's hugely popular software.

While this is encouraging news for Apple, the movers and shakers at Cupertino will be well aware of the threat posed by the Android army, led by manufacturers Samsung and HTC, who both gained traction in the market, with 10.8 % and 8.9%, respectively.

The other faller was Research in Motion's BlackBerry, who recently announced that Microsoft's Bing would power their search. They slipped by half-a-point, to 14%.

In more encouraging news for the smartphone market as a whole, sales saw an 80 per cent jump, with nearly 100 million handsets sold in the first quarter of 2011.

Is it only a matter of time before Nokia gets overtaken as the world’s largest handset maker, or are they due to stage a Microsoft-inspired comeback? Let us know what you think via the T3 Twitter and Facebook feeds.

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