Apple Inc. said it sold more iPhones than Research in Motion sold BlackBerry devices in the most recent financial quarter, a surprise victory for Apple in its effort to topple RIM as the smartphone market leader.

Apple released its most recent financial results on Tuesday, saying its profit jumped 26 per cent in the last quarter to $1.14 billion US, or $1.26 per share, from $904 million, or $1.01 a share, in the same period last year.

Sales for the Cupertino, Calif.-based company were $7.9 billion US, up from $6.22 billion a year ago.

The company set quarterly records for Macintosh and iPod sales, selling 2.6 million Macs and 11.1 million iPods.

The big surprise, however, was the 6.9 million of its 3G iPhones sold in the quarter ending Sept. 27.

"Apple just reported one of the best quarters in its history, with a spectacular performance by the iPhone — we sold more phones than RIM," said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO.

Waterloo, Ont.-based RIM sold 6.1 million BlackBerries in the quarter ending Aug. 30.

Over the long haul, RIM is still the leader, having sold 23 million BlackBerries to Apple's 13 million iPhones in the time since Apple released the first-generation version of its device in the summer of 2007.

Overtaking RIM in such a short time is a "tremendous accomplishment," said Edward Jones analyst Bill Kreher.

"It's jaw-dropping," Kreher said.

Jobs said Apple is the third highest mobile phone supplier by revenue, behind Nokia Corp. and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.

Apple and RIM have been locked in a battle in the last year for customers in both the consumer market, where Apple has traditionally staked its claim, and the business market, where RIM has been the leader.

Apple has introduced a number of features, most notably the ability to "push" email directly to the iPhone, in an effort to appeal to the business market. And RIM has introduced a number of handsets designed to appeal to consumers, including the BlackBerry Bold — its first 3G device — and the BlackBerry Storm, which features a touchscreen similar to the iPhone's.

Part of Apple's edge in the quarter can be attributed to RIM's delays in releasing the Bold into the U.S., the company's largest market.

But turmoil in the financial industry threatens to eat into the bottom line of both companies.

As a result, Apple issued what it called "prudent" predictions for the current quarter, citing broader economic uncertainty. Chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer said Apple expects to earn $1.06 to $1.35 per share on sales from $9 billion to $10 billion.

In pre-market trading Wednesday, Apple shares were up about eight per cent.


With files from the Associated Press