Apple jumps to number three in total mobile phone shipments

But beneath the smartphone glamour, the mobile market slows.

Apple's record December quarter, which saw iPhone sales more than double to 37 million, has seen the company jump to number three on IDC's chart of total global phone shipments (which runs from smartphones like the iPhone, BlackBerry and those running Google Android through to "feature phones" - essentially, every other type of handset).

It's fourth quarter surge - on the back of the new iPhone 4S - also saw Apple move into third place for total sales during 2011.

But beneath the smartphone glamour, the mobile market slowed.

Handset makers shipped 427.4 million units in the fourth quarter of 2011, compared to 402.8 million units in the fourth quarter of 2010. The 6.1% year-over-year growth was higher than IDC's forecast of 4.4% for the quarter, but weaker than the 9.3% growth in the third quarter of 2011.

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Nokia's share continued to slip. The Finnish phone giant has been particularly hard hit in the smartphone market, where it is now attempting a comeback with its Microsoft Windows-based Lumia series, released in NZ in March. However, the company continued its hold on the number one slot.

Korea's Samsung, which has led the pack offering handsets that run on Google's Android software, enjoyed 17.6% annual growth. It stays a strong number two. During the fourth quarter, Samsung reported 30% growth in its handset business, centred on booming sales of its Android-based Galaxy series.

A second Korean company, LG, tied with China's ZTE for fourth place. 

LG and ZTE both offer Android-based handsets. But like Samsung, they also support various other platforms.

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