Apple is now the third largest vendor of mobile phones in the world, with the iPhone accounting for 8.7 percent of all handset shipments in the final quarter of 2011.
IDC's data puts Apple in third place behind Nokia and Samsung, with market shares of 26.6 percent and 22.8 percent respectively, and ahead of LG and ZTE, which have shares of 4.1 percent and 4 percent in Q4 2011 respectively.
The rankings include both smartphones and feature phones, and Apple has never figured so high in IDC's Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker listings before.
"The launch of Apple's iPhone 4S smartphone, which is now available in over 90 countries, was the primary reason the company leapt over LG and ZTE in 4Q11. Device sales in the US and Japan were particularly strong given extra sales days in the quarter and carrier distribution," the company said in its report.
Apple's market share grew an astonishing 128 percent year-on-year, according to IDC's figures, with Nokia posting negative growth of 8.2 percent. Samsung's share grew by 20.9 percent and ZTE's by 8.9 percent, though LG also posted negative growth of 42.2 percent.
For the entire calendar year of 2011, Apple shifted 93.2 million iPhones, giving it a six percent share of the mobile phone market, up from its 2010 share of 3.4 percent when it sold 47.5 million units.
Despite Apple's strong performance, overall market growth was at its lowest for more than two years, said IDC.
"The introduction of high-growth products such as the iPhone 4S, which shipped in the fourth quarter, bolstered smartphone growth. Yet overall market growth fell to its lowest point since 3Q09 when the global economic recession was in full bloom," said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst at IDC.
The poor performance of the mobile phone market was particularly acute in Europe, IDC said. "The Western European mobile phone market was impacted by lower demand, a result of the worsening economic environment. Smartphone growth was not enough to offset the feature phones decline, despite excellent performances from Apple and Samsung.
"Nokia experienced another difficult quarter as a result of its transition towards Windows Phones. Feature phone shipments were near historic lows, supported primarily by very low-end devices," IDC said.