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Droid Does A Number On IPhone

Google's Android OS vaulted past the iPhone in first-quarter U.S. sales but the platform still has a long way to go to catch Apple and RIM for overall subscriber share.

smartphone

But enough people got the message in the first quarter to help vault U.S. sales of smartphones based on Google's Android operating system past Apple's iPhone for the very first time.

Research in Motion's Blackberries still hold the top spot in the U.S. smartphone market with 36 percent of total first-quarter smartphone unit sales to consumers, but Android OS phones captured 28 percent of unit sales in the first three months of 2010, ahead of the iPhone's 21 percent, according to a report this week from the NPD Group.

So how does Mountain View, Calif.-based Google's Android OS stand in terms of share of the overall smartphone market? PC World points to the April numbers crunched by metrics firm ComScore, which placed the Google platfrom in fourth place as of the end of February, with a 9.0 percent share of U.S. smartphone subscribers.

That figure actually represents a 5.2 percent sequential share gain for Google's OS, easily the largest quarter-over-quarter growth spurt among the top smartphone platform vendors. According to the ComScore report, RIM remained comfortably in first place for the three-month period ending in February 2010, with 42.1 percent of U.S. smartphone subscribers on its platform. Trailing RIM were Apple (25.4 percent share), Microsoft (15.1 percent), Google (9.0 percent) and Palm (5.4 percent).

Globally, the Symbian OS used in smartphones made by Nokia, Sony Ericsson and Samsung is the most popular smartphone platform, with the Blackberry OS coming in second.

The Android OS may have to repeat its first quarter performance several more times to get within striking distance of RIM and Apple for total subscriber share. But among carriers, Verizon clearly benefited from having perhaps the most popular Android-based smartphone, the Motorola Droid.

The New York-based telecom owned 30 percent of the smartphone market in the first quarter, helped along by its two-for-the-price-of-one promotions for its entire lineup of smartphones, including the Motorola Droid, HTC Droid Eris and Blackberry Curve, according to the NPD Group. AT&T remained the market leader with a 32 percent share of unit sales, but the Dallas, Tex.-based company is also the sole carrier to distribute the iPhone along with products from RIM, Palm and other smartphone makers.

T-Mobile, with 17 percent of first-quarter smartphone sales, and Sprint, with 15 percent, tailed AT&T and Verizon, according to the market research firm.

The NPD Group also found that as smartphone sales increased as part of the overall mobile phone market, the average selling price for mobile phones as a whole went up. Tthe average price of all mobile phones sold in the U.S. in the first quarter was $88, a 5 percent increase from the first quarter of 2009.

But smartphone prices are going down, according to the research firm. The average price of smartphones was $151 in the first quarter, a 3 percent drop year-over-year.

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