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Apple's iPhone is the Nick Clegg of smartphones: attractive, media-savvy, and firmly in third place when matched up against its more-experienced rivals.

The top worldwide smartphone manufacturer - by a hefty margin - remains neither Apple nor Research in Motion but Nokia, according to the IDC's latest Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker report.

Well, to be completely accurate, the report surveyed what IDC insists on calling "converged mobile devices," but what every other sentient being on the planet calls smartphones.

In a nutshell, the report places Nokia's worldwide smartphone market share at 39.3 per cent, RIM's at 19.4, and Apple's at 16.1, all for the first calendar quarter of 2010. These numbers differ somewhat from those announced last week by Strategy Analytics, but not enough to cause cheering in Cupertino or weeping in Espoo, Finland.

Jobsian phone fans can take some solace in the fact that the iPhone's year-on-year growth was impressive: in the same quarter of 2009, its market share was a mere 10.9 per cent. That was before the iPhone's recent surge outside the US, which buoyed Apple's most-recent financial report, and which should further cut into RIM's worldwide advantage in IDC's next quarterly survey.

The iPhone's growth took a slice out of RIM - which dropped from 1.5 per cent from 20.9 - but not from Nokia. The Finn's share remain constant at 39.3 per cent. HTC edged up from 4.3 to 4.8, and Motorola grew from 3.4 to 4.2. The real loser was that amorphous category of "Other," which dropped from 20.6 to 16.3.

Although to be fair, there really was no loser in the year-on-year numbers: worldwide smartphone converged mobile device sales grew a hefty 56.7 per cent, from 34.9 million in the first quarter of 2009 to 54.7 million in the same period this year.

Of that 54.7 million, Nokia sold a cool 21.5 million. And the Finnish phonemakers don't appear to be heading for a fall at any time in the near future, what with the introductions of the C3, C6, and E5, and the announcement of the N8, which is slated to be the first Nokia device to run the new Symbian^3 OS when it appear later this year.

If Nokia could sell their story as well as they sell their phones, Apple wouldn't be hogging all the headlines. ®

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