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12/4/2011
11:38 PM
Ed Hansberry
Ed Hansberry
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Android, Samsung Maintain Top Mobile Market Spots

Google's operating system, Apple's iPhone gain from RIM's continual slide in mobile market share, reports ComScore.

To no one's surprise, Android remained the top mobile phone platform in October, and even gained a few points. It looks like most of its growth came from RIM, the mobile market's favorite whipping boy. Samsung also continued to be the largest U.S. phone maker, enjoying and contributing to the success of Google's Android platform.

Samsung owned a fourth of the total phone market in October, the same percentage it held in July 2011. Only one of the top manufacturers saw growth according to ComScore. Apple grew from 9.5% in July to 10.8%, aided by the launch of the iPhone 4S. RIM showed the biggest decline among hardware makers, dropping from 7.6% to 6.6%. The launch of the BlackBerry 7 platform hasn't done anything to woo customers away from modern platforms like Apple iOS and Android.

On the platform side, Android is up 4.4 points to 46.3% share. Just as on the hardware side, RIM seems to be giving up the most on the software side, dropping from 21.7% to 17.2% in the last three months. RIM seems to following the Palm, Microsoft, Nokia playbook on how to live off of the success of a mobile platform for about two years too long, assuming the party would last forever.

From a usage standpoint, there are some surprising stats. For example, 71.8% of users used their phone to send text messages. That seems low to me, because I don't know anyone with a smartphone, feature phone, or even a dumb phone that doesn't use SMS.

Only 43.8% of users downloaded applications, but that number continues to steadily increase. I would like to know, though, that percentage among smartphone users. One of the best known phrases today is "there's an app for that," used by Apple to pitch its platform and iPhone. This usage number has to be held back by non-smartphone users, which are generally limited to overpriced apps that pale in comparison to those written for smartphones.

The last stat that I found interesting is the percentage of users that use their phone for music. It is just 21.2%, up from 20.3% in July. There isn't a single smartphone available that cannot hook up to some music service like iTunes, Zune, or Google Music, yet relatively few people seem to be using it. This doesn't surprise me. Using a phone for music has two significant disadvantages compared with a dedicated MP3 player. First, no one wants a dead phone battery because they were listening to tunes. Second, other than the iPod Touch, most other music players are significantly smaller than phones. I think MP3 players will continue to be around for some time to come.

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