Twitter The microblogosphere (you may know it as Twitter) was alight this afternoon upon the news that Apple is chasing down BlackBerry as the world's top smartphone maker.

A quick search on 'Apple 25% smartphone' was turning up 30 or 40 Tweets a minute, all bearing the news that the maker of the Jesus phone is chasing down RIM at the top of the smartphone operating system tree.

Literally hundreds of Tweeters felt compelled to post the phrase: "Apple Grabs 25% of the Smartphone Market", or similar.

Apple 25% market share

iPhone OS boost: fanboys or sea change?

Apple's shift up to 25.3 percent of the US mobile OS market in December 2009 is a sign of healthy growth, but the clamour on Twitter may be more a reflection of Mac fanboys' tendency to overheat. While Apple is a solid second, the BlackBerry OS remains king of this particular hill, boasting a mighty 41.6 percent of phones.

At the same time, however, Google is coming up on the rails, doubling its market share to 5.2 percent - and that before the Google Nexus One went on sale in January. The market is definitely changing.

Does any of this matter?

The underlying trend is interesting. As DougBrethower succinctly put it (and there is no other way on Twitter): "Apple a few percentage increase share of smart phone market, google doubled a 2.5 percent share in 3 months, everyone else losing."

In other words, while BlackBerry, Windows Mobile and Palm are losing share, Apple and Google Android quickly go from strength to strength - and neither of those are made by traditional mobile vendors. BlackBerry and Palm in particular will be worried by this, because mobile is what they do, and the smartphone space used to be theirs.

To many people, 'BlackBerry' is the generic term for a smartphone/emailer. And to long-time BlackBerry users, it is simply the best. (To gain some idea of how important BlackBerry has been to smartphones, consider this: in the opinion of the esteemed judges of the PC Advisor Awards 2010 BlackBerry was one of the 10 products of the past decade, and RIM was one of the 10 most important companies.) Consider a couple of the hundreds of Tweeted responses to the above story, plucked at random this afternoon:

alkomy: "BlackBerry OS 5.0 has a great improvements."

ironcommander18: "I would rather have my phone that I have right now. I have the newer version of the blackberry curve it is a great phone."

The trouble for BlackBerry is that it is so closely (and successfully) linked with business use. Smartphones are no longer the exclusive preserve of execs, and the great unwashed expect more from their gadget.

Plenty of BlackBerry phones offer slick multimedia and fun applications, but the general public sees them as a work accessory: which is why RIM is spending so much money on ad campaings persuading people they 'love' their phones.

Apple and Google, on the other hand, have the brands and the software ecosystem to appear funky and fun. Their smartphones (like Palm's and RIM's) can do the business stuff, but they're also perceived as being good playmates. They are, inessence, portable PCs.

Or as jenni_w puts it: "Having no computer is awful! I feel like I'm missing a limb! I love my iPhone!!"

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