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Razr loses sales edge to iPhone in shift to functional fashion

More U.S. adults bought Apple's device, but standard keypads are up and coming.

November 11, 2008|Alana Semuels | Semuels is a Times staff writer

Move over, Motorola.

Apple Inc.'s iPhone has shaved away your lead in the mobile phone market, passing the Razr to become the top handset bought by U.S. adult consumers in the third quarter of 2008, according to research firm NPD Group.

The Razr had held on to the lead spot for 12 quarters.

Consumers are buying more iPhones than Razrs because there is a "watershed shift in handset design from fashion to fashionable functionality," said Ross Rubin, NPD's director of industry analysis.

That means consumers don't care only about looking cool anymore -- they want to look cool with a phone that doesn't have an 18% failure rate.

Research In Motion Inc.'s BlackBerry Curve came in third in NPD's ranking.

A different report last week, from Canalys, found that the iPhone had passed RIM and Motorola to gain a 17.3% share of the so-called smart-phone market. That report showed Nokia still hanging on to first place globally. RIM could be hurting because the BlackBerry's failure rate is twice that of the iPhone.

Still, according to NPD, the jump in iPhone sales wasn't enough to stave off a slowdown in U.S. phone sales overall. Phone purchases declined 15% in the third quarter from the same period last year, and revenue fell 10%.

It's unclear whether the iPhone rush will continue. NPD said mobile phones with QWERTY keyboards saw the greatest year-over-year rise in sales. About 30% of handsets sold in the third quarter had those keyboards familiar to computer users.

And as we fat-fingered iPhone users know, a tactile keyboard is not one of the machine's many assets.

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alana.semuels@latimes.com

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