Well of COURSE iPhone sales are down

The latest hyperventilating in the blogosphere is over some NPD Group figures that show the iPhone isn’t the top seller among smart phones this quarter. That honor goes to Research in Motion and the BlackBerry Curve 8300, which had a lot of help from Verizon Wireless thanks to a buy one, get one free promotion.

But really, it misses the bigger point that Apple’s sales are going to fall off. Right now everyone is expecting a new iPhone. The rumor mill is in overdrive and logic dictates a new phone coming soon, since the first generation phones came out in July 2007, so those people on two-year contracts are coming up for renewal. The last thing Apple wants is people moving to a BlackBerry.

So it stands to reason sales would fall off significantly in anticipation of an announcement at the Worldwide Developer Conference next month.

NPD’s first quarter smart phone report lists the top five sellers as follows:

1) RIM BlackBerry Curve
2) Apple iPhone 3G
3) RIM BlackBerry Storm
4) RIM BlackBerry Pearl
5) T-Mobile G1

Smart phones continue to gain ground in the overall handset market and now make up 23 percent of total sales, thanks to price cuts and incentives from carriers to make the phones more affordable.

The real takeaway here is how dominant RIM is. Its sales are split among three models. If it was a one-trick pony like Apple, it would be an unchallenged number one player. It makes for the point of diversity in the marketplace, which hopefully Apple will do soon. Knowing Apple, it will likely be a higher-end unit rather than a cheaper, low-cost one.

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