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Apple becomes third-largest mobile manufacturer

An outbreak of iPhone fever made Apple the third hottest mobile phone maker worldwide at the end of 2011, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC).

Apple jumped into the third spot globally from fifth place in the final quarter of the year due to a record-breaking quarter for iPhone shipments, IDC said in figures available online Monday.

Apple vaulted over South Korea's LG and China based ZTE in the mobile phone market rankings, IDC said.

Nokia remained king, shipping 113.5 million mobile phones in the final quarter of the year to claim nearly 27 per cent of the market.

Samsung was second with 22.8 per cent of the market, or 97.6 million handsets shipped.

Apple sold 37.04 million iPhones in the quarter which ended on December 31, giving it a market share of 8.7 percent.

A total of 427.4 million mobile phones were shipped in the final months of 2011 in a 6.1 percent increase from the same quarter a year earlier, IDC said.

IDC warned that the growth rate in the fourth quarter of 2011 was weaker than the 9.3 percent seen in the prior three-month period of the year.

"The mobile phone market exhibited unusually low growth last quarter, which shows it is not immune to weaker macroeconomic conditions worldwide," said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker.

"The introduction of high-growth products such as the iPhone 4S, which shipped in the fourth quarter, bolstered smartphone growth," he said.

"Yet overall market growth fell to its lowest point since the third quarter of 2009 when the global economic recession was in full bloom."

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