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Android Captures Smartphone Lead In U.S.

According to numbers from Canalys and NPD Group, Google's Android mobile operating system grabbed a commanding 43.6% of the U.S. smartphone market in the third quarter.

During the third quarter of 2010, the Open Handset Alliance shipped 9.1 million Android devices in the U.S. With the total number of smartphones shipped in the U.S. standing at 20.9 million for the quarter, Android's figures give it 43.6% of the U.S. smartphone market.

Apple, however, still sold the most actual devices, with 5.5 million shipped in the U.S. during the third quarter. That gives Apple 26.2% of the smartphone market in the U.S.

RIM came in third behind Apple, with 5.1 million devices shipped and 24.3% of the U.S. smartphone market. RIM's market share slipped in the last quarter. Nokia holds 33% of the worldwide smartphone market, with Apple holding 17% and RIM holding 15%. Microsoft's share of the U.S. smartphone market was just 3.0%, with "Others" (read, webOS) making up the remaining 3.0%.

Android has stolen share from practically all smartphone contenders.

"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. "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."

According to the NPD Group, the top five actual phones in the U.S. during the third quarter were the Apple iPhone 4, the BlackBerry Curve 85xx, the LG Cosmos, the Motorola Droid X, and the HTC EVO 4G.

Will Apple stay on top with the best-selling smartphone? NPD isn't so sure. "There has not been much share left to grab from the other operating systems,” said Rubin. “The iPhone has held its own at AT&T, but Apple faces challenges in further expanding its domestic market share, while still retaining exclusivity."

A number of reports -- from the likes of the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, and the New York Times -- claim that the iPhone will be offered by Verizon Wireless as soon as early 2011. That would help Apple spread its presence in the U.S. market.

However, Android's momentum is huge, and mid-range and high-end Android handsets continue to flood the market.

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