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RIM knocked out of top five global mobile phone sellers

The BlackBerry Torch 9800 smartphone is introduced at a news conference in New York August 3, 2010. It launches in Canada Sept. 30.

SHANNON STAPLETON/REUTERS

BlackBerry maker Research In Motion has been knocked out of the top five mobile phone sellers globally, says tech research company IDC.

Apple stayed in the top five, but slipped to fifth spot in the last quarter of 2010, despite a record quarter for shipments of its iPhone, IDC said Friday.

"Change-up among the number four and five vendors could be a regular occurrence this year," said Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC's mobile devices technology and trends team.

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"Motorola, Research In Motion and Sony Ericsson, all vendors with a tight focus on the fast-growing smartphone market who had ranked among the top five worldwide vendors during 2010, are well within striking distance to move back into the top five list," Llamas said in a news release.

Apple surpassed RIM in the third-quarter of 2010 in IDC's quarterly rankings. RIM first cracked IDC's top five list last April.

The No.1 mobile phone seller in the fourth quarter was Nokia, followed by Samsung, LG Electronics, Chinese company ZTE and Apple.

IDC noted it was the first quarter that ZTE, a maker of lower cost phones, moved into the No. 4 position worldwide.

The research firm said it expects to release numbers covering the worldwide smartphone market for the fourth quarter next week. These numbers will give a picture of RIM's competitiveness against Apple and other smartphone sellers that use Google's Android operating system.

The worldwide mobile phone market will be driven largely by smartphone growth until the end of 2014, said IDC, which is based in Framingham, Mass.

Mobile vendors shipped a total of 1.39 billion units worldwide in 2010, up 18.5 per cent from the 1.1.7 billion units shipped in 2009.

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In the fourth quarter of last year, vendors shipped 401.4 million units compared with 340.5 million in the same quarter in 2009.

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