There’s good news and bad news in a new report on smartphone sales for two companies with a big presence in the Triangle. Good for HTC, which has a Durham office. Grim for Research In Motion, which maintains a Cary operation.

HTC, which is based in Taiwan, has edged Samsung Electronics Co. to become the largest smartphone vendor in the U.S., capitalizing on the Android platform’s popularity and a lull in demand for iPhones to overtake Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) and RIM (Nasdaq: RIMM).

A 10 percentage-point jump in share from a year earlier gave HTC 24 percent of the world’s largest smartphone market in the third quarter, ahead of Samsung’s 21 percent, California-based researcher Canalys said in a statement yesterday. Apple fell to third at 20 percent while RIM, maker of the BlackBerry, had 9 percent.

“However you count it, HTC has become a deserved leader in the US smart phone market,” said Canalys Vice President and Principal Analyst Chris Jones. “This is an awesome achievement for HTC, which has built a premium brand in a highly competitive market in just a few short years. It now has a strong range of 4G Android products, with devices ranged by each of the major carriers, and offers some of the most compelling and differentiated products found on the platform today.”

HTC received some more good news earlier this week when AT&T (NYSE: T) said an HTC phone would be one of the first two 4G phones it would sell. (Read details here.)

However, the good news for HTC may be somewhat temporary.

HTC, which made the world’s first phone using Google Inc.’s Android in 2008, benefited from strong relationships with U.S. carriers and made different models for each operator. Apple’s iPhone 4S and new devices from Samsung may help the two global smartphone leaders gain share in the U.S. this quarter.
HTC has forecast its first shipment decline in almost two years.
“Because iPhone 4S wasn’t yet ready during the quarter, there was a window of opportunity for others, and HTC benefited from this,” said Wang Wanli, who rates the stock “buy” at RBS Asia Ltd. in Taipei. “HTC has historically done more customization of handsets, which has made operators more willing to market and sell their devices.”

Bad, Good news for BlackBerry

Canalys’ report contained a mix of good and bad news for RIM, the maker of BlackBerry phones.

“RIM’s market share has fallen below 10 percent for the first time, and the current outlook for it in the US is certainly bleak,’ said Canalys Senior Analyst Tim Shepherd. ‘While Apple can for now get away with not having a 4G smart phone, no other vendor in the US can. RIM must deliver a competitive high-end 4G smart phone in early 2012.

“The picture for RIM in other parts of the world is clearly more positive,” he noted. “It grew 59 percent in [Euope, Middle East, Africa] and 56 percent in [Asia Pacific] over a year ago, largely driven by the continued popularity of BBM, its BlackBerry Messenger service.”

Read the Canalys report here.

(Bloomberg news contributed to this report.)

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