The Research In Motion (RIM) BlackBerry Curve has outsold the Apple iPhone in the first quarter of 2009, according to a NPD report.

For one stretch last year, Apple said it sold more outperformed the RIM, the longtime market leader to even become the overall top consumer handset in the third quarter of 2008.

Verizon Wireless's aggressive marketing of the BlackBerry Storm and its buy-one-get-one BlackBerry promotion to its large customer base contributed to RIM capturing three of the top five positions, said Ross Rubin, director of industry analysis at The NPD Group, in a statement.

The more familiar, and less expensive, Curve benefited from these giveaways and was able to leapfrog the iPhone, due to its broader availability on the four major US national carriers, he added.

Overall, the Curve came out on top, while the iPhone slipped to second and the touch-screen BlackBerry Storm took third.

NPD did not release any specific numbers with the ranking but analysts believe RIM took about 50 percent of the smartphone market in the first quarter, up from 35 percent in the Q4 2008. Meanwhile, Both Palm and Apple fell 10 percent each.