Apple (AAPL) expects sales of its iPhone to keep growing. The company has raised its target for first-quarter shipments by as much as 10%, according to a DigiTimes story, which cited unidentified component suppliers in Taiwan.

Apple is aiming for as many as 21 million deliveries for the first quarter, up from its earlier estimate of 19 million, according to the DigiTimes article published Monday. The company expects this quarter's shipments will come to about 15.5 million iPhones, bringing the full 2010 shipments to a total of 47 million, according to the publication.

The news suggests that Apple is confident it can continue its sales momentum amid growing competition from companies such as Research in Motion (RIMM). Apple has been battling RIMM and other competitors for market share in the smartphone market, which research firm Strategy Analytics earlier this month forecast will jump almost eightfold to 355 million unit sales between 2009 and 2015.

Apple first introduced the iPhone in 2007, unveiling the fourth-generation iPhone in June. The phone has been consistently profitable: Sales nearly doubled, year over year, in the company's fiscal fourth quarter, which ended in September.


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