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Apple's third quarter was a blowout all around, but the real question is how the iPhone is faring. Now that we've got a quarter's worth of data, we can compare it to the competition, and gauge the effect of blogosphere scandals like the recent episode of iPhones "bricking" after a software update — sure, tech pundits got worked up, but did people stop buying iPhones? The bottom line: Steve Jobs & Co. entered a daunting market and performed quite well.

For comparison's sake, I measured the iPhone primarily against offerings from Palm, BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion, and Nokia's full featured N-series mobile phones. With a single, high-priced design sold only for AT&T in the U.S., Apple has already surpassed Palm, which offers its Treo on all major U.S. networks. Sales reached one-third the level of industry stalwart Research In Motion after only four months. Apple has even achieved more than ten percent of the share Nokia enjoys across its entire N-series, the world leader in smartphones. And this simple comparison only looks at units sold. Even at the lowered $399 price, Apple's iPhone tests the upper limits of mobile pricing — and that's not counting the share of service fees Apple gets from AT&T.

Though it may be Mac-fanboy sacrilege to say so, the iPhone lacks some key features. Right now, Apple can brick an iPhone with a software update — but IT administrators can't, which makes them hesitant to buy them for corporations. The BlackBerry is entrenched in that market. And Nokia has unmatched global reach. Against those considerations, Apple has unquestionably performed well.


Data for third quarter: