While Apple has garnered an overwhelming share of the smart phone hype this fall with its iPhone 3G, latest figures show it managed only second place in worldwide sales after Nokia in the third quarter of this year.

iPhone 3G: Last hurrah for the cell boom?

Market research firm Canalys.com released a detailed ‘state of the market’ report this week showing that a total of 39.9 million cell phones were shipped out to retailers by manufacturers in July, August and September of this year.

Nokia contributed more than a third of that total to the market (just under 15.5 million units) while Apple pumped out just under 6.9 million iPhones and smart phone pioneer RIM was close behind, shipping just over 6.0 million BlackBerrys.

The Canalys.com report does not offer projections for current quarter smart phone sales. However, other market watchers have already predicted, based on October figures, that cell phone sales in general will tank in the final three months of this year as a result of the worsening economy, and holiday gift cell sales in particular will be especially ‘disappointing’.

One result of this abrupt downtrend in the cell market may be big discounts on cell phones that might otherwise just collect dust on store shelves. Some industry observers also predict increased competition between service providers to bolster their revenues in the face of plummeting handset sales and sagging service plan upgrades.

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