Price reductions helped push the Blackberry Curve, iPhone 3GS and iPhone 3G to the top of the third-quarter list in unit sales to consumers, excluding sales to corporations and enterprises, the company said.
"Carriers have been heavily promoting the latest advanced handsets, which has spurred recent growth in the smartphone market and an increase the number of smartphone brands available to consumers," said Ross Rubin, NPD's industry analysis director. "For example, while there was only one Android device available in the fourth quarter of last year, now there are eight available from three major carriers."
Smartphones did not increase their share of unit sales to consumers on a sequential basis in the third quarter, but their share was up from the year-ago quarter's 23 percent, NPD found.
Smartphone price competition helped push down the average price of all cellphones sold to consumers by 3 percent to $85 compared to the year-ago quarter, NPD also found.
In other third-quarter findings, NPD said:
LG dominated sales of feature phones, with the LG EnV3 and LG EnV Touch among the top five handsets sold during the period.
Mobile phone accessories sales hit $2.3 billion in the third quarter, up sequentially by 12 percent compared to the second quarter.
68 percent of new handsets were purchased at carrier stores, with 8 percent purchased at mass merchants and 9 percent at electronics stores during the third quarter, but carriers will likely lose share in the fourth quarter, as they always do. "Although carrier stores lead sales throughout the year, around the holidays consumers tend to purchase more handsets from mass merchants, due in part to the allure of one-stop shopping for a variety of holiday gifts," Rubin said