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Research In Motion climbs back into top 5 in smartphone sales

Research In Motion CEO Thorsten Heins gestures while delivering his keynote address during the Blackberry Jam Americas in San Jose, California September 25, 2012.

ROBERT GALBRAITH/REUTERS

Research In Motion Ltd. is back among the top five smartphone makers with the most shipments of devices in the third quarter, after briefly dropping out amid falling sales in more developed markets, according to research firm IDC.

Although Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics remain, by far, the world's largest smartphone makers, BlackBerry devices made up 4.3 per cent of smartphone shipments worldwide, as the Waterloo, Ont.-based company boosted its global user base to around 80 million.

Samsung, on the other hand, was responsible for 31.3 per cent of global smartphone shipments, with Apple responsible for 15 per cent. Chinese telecom giant ZTE Corp. was ranked fourth, behind RIM, with 4.2 per cent of the smartphone market, followed by Taiwanese device maker HTC Corp. with 4 per cent. Notably, the troubled Finnish firm Nokia Corp. dropped out of the top five.

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RIM fell out of the ranking the last time IDC reported its quarterly numbers, due to its aging product portfolio. BlackBerry phones sell extremely well in many emerging markets around the world sales are under pressure from Apple and Samsung in more developed markets such as the United States. The Canadian smartphone maker is relying on an upcoming lineup of phones called BlackBerry 10 to keep the company moving forward, despite challenges – including slowing sales – which led to a big management shake up and a program of 5,000 layoffs, still ongoing.

"RIM relied on its older product portfolio and models to achieve its status as a top five smartphone seller," IDC says in its report, which was released on Thursday. "Still, without a new flagship model in time for the holiday season and BB10 models not expected until the first quarter of 2013, RIM's position as a top five smartphone vendor will be under tremendous pressure from other companies."

According to Strategy Analytics, another research firm, the roughly 57-million smartphones shipped by Samsung in the quarter was the "largest amount ever shipped by a vendor in a single quarter."

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