Android piles on its U.S. smartphone market share lead

RIM's share has free fall since Q3 2009; Apple inches upward

Popularity of the Google Android mobile operating system is showing no signs of slowing down, with the OS being found in 44% of smartphones purchased during Q3.

This is according to separate studies released Monday by market watchers NPD and Canalys.  (Recent ChangeWave Research figures also showed continued Android success in the market, despite Apple’s iPhone 4 introduction over the summer.)

What’s more, Android’s gain (up 11% since Q2) has come largely at the expense of RIM BlackBerries, according to NPD. The RIM OS share of the market fell from 28% to 22%, allowing Apple iOS smartphones to take over the No. 2 position in the U.S. consumer smartphone market with a 23% share (the iPhone 4 was the top selling consumer mobile phone in Q3 in the United States, followed by the BlackBerry Curve 8500 series). Canalys pegged Apple’s share at No. 2 as well, with 26.2%, ahead of RIM’s 24.2%.

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Android’s momentum has been fueled by a steady stream of Android phone introductions and new applications, including Skype.  Google Android buzz is also spreading over an anticipated new version of the OS, dubbed Gingerbread, that could optimize Android for tablets. In fact, Android is so hot that even malware writers have started to target it.

“Much of Android’s quarterly share growth came at the expense of RIM, rather than Apple,” said Ross Rubin, executive director of industry analysis for NPD, in a statement. “The HTC EVO 4G, Motorola Droid X, and other new high-end Android devices have been gaining momentum at carriers that traditionally have been strong RIM distributors, and the recent introduction of the BlackBerry Torch  has done little to stem the tide.”

NPD's numbers don't include enterprise smartphone sales, but indicators are that Android is increasingly showing up at businesses as well. However, Android has some catching up to do on the security front.

Even more dramatic than changes from Q2 to Q3 are changes from Q3 last year, according to NPD. RIM’s share has fallen by 53% and Apple iOS by 21%.

Despite the market share slide, RIM reported record quarterly device sales (12.1 million) when it announced Q2 financial results in September, a period during which revenue and earnings rose. 

Worldwide, smartphone sales nearly doubled from a year ago to 80.9 million units, according to Canalys. Nokia is the worldwide market leader with a 33% share.

Follow Bob Brown on Twitter: www.twitter.com/alphadoggs

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