Smartphones based on Google's Android operating system are gaining U.S. market share, as rivals based on Palm and Microsoft platforms racked up the biggest losses over the past 90 days, a market research study shows.
Figures from ComScore for the months from December through February show that Android-based smartphones gained 5.2 percentage points to end the period with a 9% share.
On the other hand, the market share for phones based on Microsoft's Windows Mobile and Palm's WebOS fell 4 and 1.8 percentage points, respectively. Microsoft-based phones ended the period with a 15.11% share and Palm phones with a 5.4% share.
Meanwhile, number two smartphone maker Apple saw a slight dip in share with the iPhone falling a tenth of a percentage point to 25.4%. Research in Motion's market leading BlackBerry gained 1.3 percentage points for a 42.1% share.
The share declines of Microsoft and Palm are not surprising. Microsoft's Window Mobile OS has failed to keep up with rivals in features and performance. Palm, on the other hand, reported that sales of its smartphones fell 29% in the quarter ended Feb. 26.
Palm's decline, which has occurred despite strong reviews for its WebOS, has coincided with rising sales of Android-based smartphones. Whether Palm can reverse the trends remains to be seen.
Microsoft, on the other hand, plans to release a whole new mobile OS this year called Windows Phone 7. Early media reports indicate the platform is a major improvement from Windows Mobile and could be a strong competitor.
Overall, 45.4 million people in the U.S. owned smartphones at the end of February, up 21% from the previous three months. Smartphones are the fastest growing segment of the mobile phone market, which comprised 234 million subscribers in the U.S. at the end of February, ComScore said.
Motorola ranked as the top mobile phone manufacturer with a 24.2% share, followed by LG, 21.7%; Samsung, 21%; Nokia, 9.3%; and RIM, 6.5%.