According to research BlackBerry was the UK's top-selling smartphone brand in 2010, with 36 percent of all smartphone sales in December 2010.

GfK data estimate that half a million Blackberry handsets were sold during the build up to Christmas alone, giving RIM a record high of 36 percent share of the smartphone market, and 51.1 percent of the pre-pay market in that period.

That pre-pay stat will be of particular interest to RIM, as it shows that BlackBerry has moved away from its previous image as a business tool suited only for the enterprise. This has been achieved largely off the back of success with social media tools such as BlackBerry Messenger - an instant-messaging app that is currently used by more than 33 million people. BlackBerry also claims that its handsets are the number one tools for mobile Twitter and Facebook use.

Using the GfK stats RIM is also claiming number one spot in the contract smartphone market, with 23.3 percent share.

The stats look less impressive when the non-smart sector of the market is included, but according to GfK data BlackBerry still accounted for almost 15 percent of the total mobile handset market in the final month of 2010.

GfK defines a 'smartphone' as a handset running "RIM OS, Mac OS X, Android, Symbian, Windows Mobile, Palm or Limo". [We've asked for confirmation that this should include Apple iOS, iPhone OS and Windows Phone 7 - and not Mac OS X. We'll update this story as we have this information.]

Commenting on the stats RIM's UK MD Stephen Bates said: "December was a record month for us – with around 11 BlackBerrys sold every minute. The strength of sales in 2010 confirms BlackBerry’s leadership position in the UK smartphone market. This is highlighted in particular by our growth in the burgeoning pre-paid market.

"BlackBerry smartphones are now the number-one prepaid smartphones in the UK and we achieved the position of UK number one smartphone brand in 2010. Our consumers are attracted by applications such as BlackBerry Messenger, which experienced a 500 per cent increase in usage last year with currently 33 million users to date worldwide.  

"Looking ahead to 2011, the forthcoming BlackBerry PlayBook exemplifies how we are continually striving to anticipate and meet the needs of our ever-expanding customer base with highly innovative products."