Editor's note: In the previous version of this story, we incorrectly reported that Research In Motion had lost almost five percentage points in market share. Research In Motion did not lose market share. The Fool regrets the error.

If great firms win customers in every market, then Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is one of the best companies I've ever seen.

New research from smartphone tracker Canalys put the iPhone ahead of Research In Motion's (NASDAQ:RIMM) so-called CrackBerry for the first time during the third quarter. Nokia (NYSE:NOK) still has the top spot, but it lost share, as did fourth-place Motorola (NYSE:MOT). The numbers:


Q3 2008 Shipments

% Market Share

Q3 2007 Shipments

% Market Share


15.485 million


16.025 million



6.899 million


1.107 million


Research In Motion

6.051 million


3.298 million



2.313 million


2.058 million



2.308 million


.850 million


All Others

6.791 million


7.816 million


Source: Canalys.

What strikes me is how everyone lost share save for Apple, Research In Motion, and Taiwan's HTC, which actually beat the iEmpire to market with a touchscreen phone.

Apple is the big winner here, by comparison to RIM. How else can you describe it, when RIM has shipped 83% more units year-over-year but has fallen behind Apple in market share? Shoppers simply like the iPhone more -- or so says a recent customer-satisfaction survey taken by J.D. Power.

Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Mobile fared a little better. Its share of the smartphone operating system market increased from 12.2% to 13.6%. Trouble is, that ranked fourth -- behind Nokia's Symbian, the Mac OS, and Research In Motion's BlackBerry OS.

And (ahem) those numbers might be soft. Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) first Android phone -- built and sold through Deutsche Telekom's (NYSE:DT) T-Mobile -- shipped in late September. The G1 hasn't exactly created raving fans, but rumors of Mr. Moto wanting an Android of his own appear plausible. If so, other handset makers will follow. Microsoft and RIM could be fighting to stand still even as the iPhone marches on.

Which means the "iEmpire" is no longer just a cutesy nickname. It's real, growing, and -- if the numbers are to be believed -- the cure for legions of one-time CrackBerry addicts.

Brrrrrrrring! It's related Foolishness calling:

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