Gartner: Android market share tops 50% worldwide

Gartner says iPhone sales slowed right before iPhone 4S unveiled

Android's well-documented fragmentation issues apparently aren't deterring consumers from snatching up Android phones.

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According to new research from Gartner, Android-based devices accounted for a whopping 52.5% of all smartphones sold worldwide in the third quarter of 2011. In all, consumers bought around 60.5 million Android smartphones in the third quarter of 2011, or roughly triple the 20.5 million Android smartphones purchased in the third quarter of 2010.

Smartphones based on Nokia's now-defunct Symbian operating system still accounted for a decent share of smartphone sales as the 19.5 million Symbian devices sold in the third quarter of 2011 represented 16.9% of the overall smartphone market. However this also represented a major decline in market share for an operating system whose devices accounted for 36.3% of smartphone sales in the third quarter of 2010.

Apple and Research in Motion saw their share of the overall smartphone market decline year-over-year in the third quarter. Gartner analyst Roberta Cozza said that the Apple's market share decline was likely a temporary blip as iPhone purchases slowed while consumers waited for the new iPhone 4S to be released. RIM's decline is more problematic, however, as Cozza noted that "its smartphone share reached its lowest point so far in the U.S. market, where it dropped to 10%."

Devices based on iOS accounted for 15% of the third quarter of 2011 smartphone sales, down from a 16.6% market share in the third quarter of 2010, while devices based on the BlackBerry OS accounted for 11% of the third quarter of 2011 smartphone sales, down from 15.4% in the third quarter of 2010.

Gartner's findings mark the first time that Android has accounted for more than 50% of smartphones sold in the world. Research released last quarter by Canalys showed that Android-based phones accounted for 48% of all smartphones shipped in the second quarter, as the 51.9 million Android phones shipped in the second quarter of 2011 represented a nearly fivefold increase from the number of Android phones shipped in the second quarter of 2010.

Ever since its debut in the fall of 2007, Android has appeared on numerous popular smartphones for several carriers including Verizon's Motorola Droid and Sprint's HTC Evo 4G. Google last month released Android 4.0 (a.k.a., "Ice Cream Sandwich", the first version of its mobile operating system that aims to deliver the same user experience to the multiple types of Android devices, whether it's a smaller-screen phone like the Droid Pro, a large-screen phone like the Droid X or a tablet like the Motorola Xoom.

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