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Android Takes No. 2 Smartphone Spot From iPhone

According to data provided by NPD Group, Google's Android platform has surpassed Apple's iPhone in terms of unit sales in the most recent quarter. Is this really surprising?

According to data provided by NPD Group, Google's Android platform has surpassed Apple's iPhone in terms of unit sales in the most recent quarter. Is this really surprising?The NPD Group says that Research In Motion owns 36% of the smartphone market in the U.S. Given that one out of every two smartphones sold in the U.S. are RIM's BlackBerries, its grip on the number one spot is absolute -- at least for now.

In the most recent quarter, NPD's research says that 28% of all smartphones sold in the U.S. were Android-based devices. Apple follows in the third spot with 21% of U.S. smartphone sales. NPD credits the shift to strong sales of the HTC Droid Eris, Motorola Droid, and other Android models that are available from all four major U.S. carriers.

"As in the past, carrier distribution and promotion have played a crucial role in determining smartphone market share," said Ross Rubin, executive director of industry analysis for NPD. "In order to compete with the iPhone, Verizon Wireless has expanded its buy-one-get-one offer beyond RIM devices to now include all of their smartphones."

There are a few things not included in NPD's analysis that are worth pointing out. First, Apple is widely believed to be announcing and offering a next-generation iPhone by June or July. Apple fanatics know this. Any serious Apple and iPhone lover probably bought the iPhone 3GS at some point between July and September 2009, when it first went on sale. They are waiting patiently to see what Apple announced at WWDC in the coming weeks, and will be headed to stores for the new iPhone once it is available. Depending on the strength of the next-gen iPhone's qualities, it could easily steal the number two spot back from Android.

Google and its handset partners need to keep churning out high-end models -- such as the Droid Incredible -- if they want to keep Apple's iPhone at bay.

What will be even more interesting than the next generation of the iPhone, however, is to see how quickly adoption of BlackBerry 6 devices takes off. RIM debuted a preview of the new operating system at its Wireless Enterprise Symposium, and the refreshed operating system received a warm reception. If RIM is able to pair exciting new handsets with a more capable OS, it should have no problem holding onto the number one spot indefinitely.

[Via NPD Group]

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