International Data Corporation reported the figures, which were similar but not identical to figures released by Canalys on Tuesday.
Both firms noted Apple firmly in the lead, selling more than 20.3 million iPhones, well ahead of second place Samsung at 17.3 million, which also beat out former smartphone leader Nokia and its sales of 16.7 million units.
"The smartphone market crowned a new leader in 2Q11, and its name is Apple," wrote Ramon Llamas, the senior research analyst of IDC's Mobile Phone Technology and Trends team. "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. 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 added that, "Apple's success can be directly attributed to its distribution (more than 200 carriers in more than 200 countries), increased manufacturing capacity, and solid demand within emerging and developed markets from both consumers and business users.
"Apple's emergence as the number one smartphone vendor worldwide comes at a time when former worldwide leader Nokia is in the midst of a major transition. However, Apple has yet to top Nokia's single-quarter volume record of 28.1 million units. But given Apple's momentum in the smartphone market, it may not be a question of whether Apple will beat that milestone, but when."
Among the other smartphone vendors in the top five, IDC observed that Samsung experienced the most growth due to global popularity of its Android-powered Galaxy S, while noting that "Samsung's Bada-powered smartphones likewise grew, while demand for its Windows Phone smartphones has cooled off."
The firm said that Nokia "ceded the number one position for the first time in the history of IDC's Mobile Phone Tracker," while noting that fourth place RIM "posted the lowest year-over-year growth of all the vendors in the top five," as the "bulk of its shipments" continued "to be comprised of older, less expensive models."
HTC followed close behind RIM, finding a "warm reception among carriers and end-users" according to IDC.