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IPhone reality check

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With the likely iPhone announcement in a few hours, there will no doubt be a storm of Apple coverage this evening. Before you start drooling or start ignoring tech websites, here’s a dose of reality: BlackBerry not only outsold the iPhone in the first quarter of 2008, but also increased its smart-phone market share by almost 10 points.

RIM’s BlackBerry, which is still the strong favorite among American executives, leapt from 35.1 percent of the US market in Q4 2007 to 44.5 percent, according to the research firm IDC.

“At the same time, the iPhone's US market share dropped to 19.2% for first quarter, down from 26.7% of the market in the fourth quarter of 2007,” reports ComputerWorld.

An IDC analyst said the Apple slide was not unexpected: “the fourth quarter includes the holiday shopping season.” (I guess an iPhone makes a better Christmas present than a BlackBerry.) And Q1 was when rumors of a second-gen iPhone grew louder, perhaps waving off some potential iShoppers.

But Apple's even lost ground against Palm. The No. 3 smart-phone maker grabbed 13.4 percent in Q1, up from 7.9 percent in Q4.

These numbers might be irrelevant by tomorrow. iPhone’s second coming could smack down both RIM and Palm, lifting Apple’s market share out of second place. But let’s see what Mr. Jobs has to offer.

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