NPD Ranks Apple 3rd Largest US Mobile Phone Brand

Apple is now the third largest mobile phone maker in the U.S., behind Samsung and LG, according to a recent NPD Group study. Apple topped RIM, Motorola and HTC with the iPhone, and some of that success came thanks to bringing the combination iPod and smartphone to Verizon’s mobile network.

iPhone 4, now number 3. That's a good thing.Apple now the 3rd largest U.S. mobile phone maker

Based on NPD’s data, Samsung controlled 23 percent of the mobile phone market in the first quarter of 2011, LG held 18 percent of the market, and Apple owned 14 percent.

The research firm also said that Apple’s iPhone 4 was the top selling mobile phone in the U.S., and that the iPhone 3GS was among the top five selling phones for the quarter. The remaining top five sellers included the Motorola Droid X, the HTC EVO 4G and the HTC Droid Incredible.

“Apple and Verizon had a very successful launch of the iPhone 4, which allowed the iPhone to expand its market share that was previously held back by its prolonged carrier exclusivity with AT&T,” commented NPD executive director of industry analysis Ross Rubin.

Verizon activated some 2.2 million iPhones during the first quarter of the year, and AT&T activated 3.6 million. Apple’s worldwide iPhone sales hit 18.65 million, up about 113 percent compared to the same quarter last year.

The firm also noted that 54 percent of the new U.S. mobile phone purchases for the quarter were smartphones, marking the first time smartphone purchases outpaced feature phone sales.