Research In Motion Ltd. is throwing Apple Inc. a curveball in the smart phone game: The BlackBerry Curve outsold Apple’s iPhone in the first quarter, according to market researchers at the NPD Group.
For one stretch last year, Apple said it sold more iPhones than RIM, the longtime market leader, sold BlackBerrys.
But in the first three months of this year, the Curve, a product line that launched in 2007, stole the title back. It benefited from its widespread availability, since it is sold by all four major U.S. wireless carriers, while the iPhone is available in the U.S. only through AT&T Inc. A buy-one-get- one-free promotion by Verizon Wireless also helped the Curve, NPD analyst Ross Rubin said.
The iPhone slipped to No. 2, while RIM’s touch-screen BlackBerry Storm – also available through Verizon Wireless – came in third.
NPD did not release sales numbers along with the rankings.
Apple said it shipped wireless carriers 3.8 million iPhones during its fiscal second quarter, which ended March 28. RIM shipped 7.8 million BlackBerrys during its fiscal fourth quarter, which ended Feb. 28.
NPD estimated that RIM snagged almost 50 percent of the U.S. smart phone market in the first quarter, up 15 percent from the fourth quarter of 2008. It believes that Apple and Treo maker Palm Inc. both saw their share of the smart phone market drop 10 percent during that time.
RIM and Apple had no comment.
More-pleasing LED light: Light-emitting diodes are prime candidates for replacing inefficient incandescent bulbs, but have a few things working against them. They can provide a pleasing warm light or they can be energy-efficient, but they haven’t been able to be both at the same time.
Last week, two small companies showed off an LED lamp that’s both very power-efficient and produces a light similar to that of a standard tungsten or halogen bulb.
The LEDs in the lamp shine through a thin layer of “quantum dots,” a scattering of particles of very small but precisely controlled size. When light hits them, they emit light of a different color, much like the “phosphor” layer of a fluorescent tube. The magic of quantum dots is that the color they emit can be controlled very accurately by adjusting their size, which means less wasted energy and more pleasing color.
The dots are so small that more than 10,000 of them could be could be lined up over the width of a human hair.