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The World's Top 5 Smartphone Makers

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Despite the frenzy surrounding the iPhone's big gains in the U.S. smartphone market, Apple (AAPL - Get Report) has a ways to go before capturing the lead in worldwide market share.

Apple cracked the top five rankings for the first time ever during the third quarter of 2010, but dumb-phone stalwart Nokia (NOK - Get Report) retained its market share lead, followed by Samsung and LG Electronics, according to data released by IDC last week.

The worldwide phone market grew 14.6% this quarter, driven largely by the growing popularity of smartphones. Not surprisingly, Apple and BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion (RIMM) posted the highest growth rates among the top five vendors this quarter.

"As smartphones vendors move, so does the market," IDC senior analyst Kevin Restivo told TheStreet. "Those smartphone makers that are generating unit growth are really pushing the market forward."

As Apple and RIM have developed distinct products, handset competitors -- and particularly those with Android-based operating systems -- must come up with new ways to differentiate their smartphones if they want to become market leaders going forward, said Restivo.

Sony (SNE) Ericsson, despite growing its market share in Japan at the expense of Apple, missed the top 5 list for the first time since IDC started tracking mobile phone shipments.

Read on for snapshots of the world's top mobile phone vendors.

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