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Android Bests iOS, BlackBerry For Smartphone Lead

Android has surpassed both Apple's iOS and RIM's BlackBerry OS to to become the number one smartphone platform in the U.S., according to the latest numbers from Nielsen.

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Nielsen has published a report about smartphone platform and smartphone maker penetration in the U.S. market. In the period between November 2010 and January 2011, Google's Android platform rose to hold 29% of the U.S. smartphone market. That puts it just ahead of Apple's iOS and RIM's BlackBerry OS, each of which holds 27% of the market.

Does that mean Google is winning the smartphone war? That depends on your point of view. Sure, Android is now the top smartphone platform, but Google doesn't sell smartphones -- its partners do.

"An analysis by manufacturer shows RIM and Apple to be the winners compared to other device makers since they are the only ones creating and selling smartphones with their respective operating systems," Nielsen reported.

That means Apple and RIM make profits on everything related to their operating systems and devices -- not just one or the other.

Looking at how the rest of the market shakes out with respect to operating systems, Microsoft's platforms fall into fourth place, with about 10% of the market running either Windows Phone 7 or Windows Mobile 5.x/6.x. HP's webOS platform grabs the fifth place position with 4% of the market, and Nokia's Symbian platform takes sixth place with 2% of the market.

But what of the phone makers themselves?

HTC comes in third overall behind Apple and RIM with 19% of the U.S. market. HTC's Android handsets represent 12% of the total market, while HTC's Windows Phone devices represent 7%.

Motorola owns 11% of the U.S. smartphone market, and lands in the fourth spot. Motorola's market share breaks down to 10% of the total from Android and 1% of the total from Windows Mobile 5.x/6.x.

Samsung holds the fifth spot with a total smartphone market share of 7%. HP and Nokia bring up the bottom of the market with 4% and 2%, respectively.

Apple and RIM definitely have an advantage due to the fact that they make their own software and hardware. Android may hold 29% of the overall smartphone market, but it is a horse race between HTC, Motorola, and Samsung for dominance in that 29% portion. Apple and RIM own all 27% of their iOS and BlackBerry portions.

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