Apple is world's biggest smartphone maker

Industry bean-counters have declared Apple king of the smartphone makers - for now at least.

IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Smartphone Tracker showed the Cupertino company shipping 20.3 million iPhone units in the second quarter of 2011 compared to 17.3 million from top-two newcomer Samsung and 16.7 million from Nokia, which slipped into an ignominious third place.

The market intelligence outfit did warn, however, that there was no real runaway winner and that the top three could look very different in coming quarters.

"The smartphone market crowned a new leader in 2Q11, and its name is Apple," proclaimed IDC's Ramon Llamas. "Ever since the first iPhone launched in 2007, Apple has made market-setting strides in hardware, software, and channel development to grab mindshare and market share," he burbled. "Demand has been so strong that even models that have been out for one or two years are still being sought out. With an expected refresh later this year, volumes are set to reach higher levels."

IDC attributes Apple's apparent success to its strong global distribution, increased manufacturing capacity and solid demand from both consumer and business users.

Nokia was knocked off of the top spot for the first time since 2009.