John Paczkowski

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BlackBerry Curve More Popular Than iPhone

bogoQuestion for you: What was the best-selling consumer smartphone in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2009? What’s that? Apple’s iPhone?

Wrong. According to market researcher NPD, the best-selling smartphone was Research in Motion’s (RIMM) BlackBerry Curve, which slipped past the iconic device in market share, bolstered by Verizon’s (VZ) Buy One, Get One promotion.

That deal, which ran from Feb. 6 to March 31, offered a second RIM handset of equal or lesser value with the purchase of any Blackberry and a two-year contract–an attractive proposition and one that many a consumer took the carrier up on. NPD says RIM’s consumer smartphone market share rose to nearly 50 percent in the first quarter, an increase of 15 percent. Meanwhile, Apple’s (AAPL) and Palm’s (PALM) shares both declined 10 percent. “Buy one, get one free” trumps “what are the handy things about the iPhone” every time.

NPD’s Top 5 rankings:

  1. RIM BlackBerry Curve (all 83XX models)
  2. Apple iPhone 3G (all models)
  3. RIM BlackBerry Storm
  4. RIM BlackBerry Pearl (all models, except flip)
  5. T-Mobile G1

“Verizon Wireless’s aggressive marketing of the BlackBerry Storm and its buy-one-get-one BlackBerry promotion to its large customer base contributed to RIM capturing three of the top five positions,” Ross Rubin, director of industry analysis at The NPD Group said in a statement. “The more familiar, and less expensive Curve benefited from these giveaways and was able to leapfrog the iPhone, due to its broader availability on the four major U.S. national carriers.”

It’s not likely we’ll ever see a similar “buy one, get one” free deal from Apple for the iPhone, although if we did, one wonders how long the BlackBerry would be able to hold on to the top spot.