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Apple, RIM: Mobile Makers to Watch

Apple, Nokia and RIM topped rank among smartphone's biggest players. Here are the mobile phone manufacturers to watch for the rest of the year.

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Apple's (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report iPad has stolen tech's spotlight, but smartphones are still hot. Not only did Apple see iPhone sales nearly double in 2009's last quarter, but according to new research from IDC, the number of phones sold globally hit a new high. Vendors shipped 54.5 million units, a 39% increase over 2008's Q4. Here are last quarter's largest players -- and the manufacturers to keep an eye on in the coming months.



(NOK) - Get Nokia Oyj Report

has long held the title of world's largest smartphone maker, thanks to its stronghold in overseas markets. The mobile giant's piece of the global industry grew almost 12% in 2009 and 37.7% over 2008's fourth quarter, but some analysts are worried about reports that rival

RIM's BlackBerry phones are starting to outsell Nokia's

comparable models in Europe.


Research In Motion

In the gadget geek sphere,

Research In Motion


falls short of the iPhone's touchscreen- and apps-driven user experience. But RIM, which captured the business sector with its e-mail-first capability and simple design, increased its market share 46.2% in 2009 and now holds about 20% of the global industry. (In terms of shipments, it also topped the 10 million unit mark, says IDC.) In an effort to combat Apple this year,

RIM is allegedly preparing a new touchscreen phone

due out sometime this spring.



When it comes to Apple, everyone is talking about the

iPad's iffy reception

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, but investors might want to focus on the iPhone, which last year sold more than 25 million units. Retaining its position as the world's third-largest smartphone maker, Apple grew fourth-quarter shipments by more than 97% over the same period in 2008 and increased its market share by more than 80%.



Holding 4.6% of the smartphone market for the fourth quarter,



didn't make 2009's top five vendor list. But thanks to the 2 million Android-powered phones it launched and sold late last year, the lagging vendor saw a 56.3% increase in shipments for the last quarter, compared to 2008's fourth quarter. To help boost 2010 sales,

Motorola is partnering with Google

to build and sell a Google phone directly to consumers.



Earlier in the year, Taiwanese tech shop

HTC launched four new Android smartphones

, helping to boost its status to the world's fourth largest smartphone manufacturer with 4.6% of the market, according to IDC. HTC, maker of Google's

Nexus One

, grew its 2009 market share by 8%.

Start Over

-- Reported by Maggie Overfelt in New York


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