Android Handset Sales Beat iPhone Amid Froyo 2.2 Update Frenzy for Evo, Droid

Two separate reports today place sales of Android handsets ahead of Apple's iPhone for the first time amid a frenzy of Froyo, or Android 2.2, update news for major smartphones including the Evo 4G and Droid.

Verizon's Android 2.2 update for the Motorola Droid -- and perhaps Droid X -- should begin by next week, and news of the upgrade comes on the heels of Sprint's announcement that Android 2.2, dubbed Froyo, is going to start rolling out tomorrow for the HTC Evo 4G.

The Droid, which went on sale accompanied by a marketing blitz by Verizon last November, was the first smartphone to hit the shelves with Android 2.0, and recently was upgraded with Eclair, Android 2.1. And, though the Droid 2 is expected to ship with Froyo on Aug. 12, right now only the Google-branded Nexus One is running the latest version of Android 2.2 That will change, however, when the HTC Evo gets updated tomorrow to version 2.2.

Industry watchers and early adopters are anticipating Froyo as it includes significant enhancements to the Google-backed mobile Linux OS.

Android 2.2 includes more mobile security features, such as support for complex passwords and policies, remote wipe and the ability to remotely lock the device to secure data if the smartphone is lost or stolen. It also includes support for Exchange calendars, Adobe Flash as well as tethering and Wi-Fi hotspot functionality, and, overall, performs much faster. The mobile OS also now allows for application storage on external devices and a more fluid mobile app market experience.

Android Action: Evo 4G, Droid X, Droid 2

It appears, however, that Sprint will beat Verizon in the Android 2.2 upgrade race as it will start updating the Evo 4G tomorrow -- Verizon has yet to confirm an official release date for the Droid, but is widely expected to begin by Friday, and there is speculation that the Droid X will soon follow.

By press time, Verizon had not returned calls seeking comment.

The Evo 4G, which shipped with Android 2.1, works on Sprint's 4G network over WiMax where available and then defaults to 3G if a 4G network is not available. Evo 4G has a 4.3-inch touchscreen, a 1GHz Snapdragon processor and a host of other features.

Meanwhile, according to Droid Life and other Android blogs, the release date for the Droid 2 is August 12. The Droid 2 will include a physical keyboard, unlike the Droid X.

Report: Android Smartphones Beat iPhone, RIM

The Froyo frenzy is coinciding with Research In Motion's press event tomorrow in New York City, at which the BlackBerry maker is expected to unveil the 9800 touchscreen model running BlackBerry OS 6, which includes an updated browser, more streamlined social networking and enhanced multimedia.

But the Android momentum shows no sign of slowing down, as the two-year-old mobile OS posts gains amid a wider surge in the smartphone market. Shipments of smartphones running Android jumped 886 percent during the second quarter, while the worldwide market grew 64 percent annually, helped by Apple, HTC and RIM, research firm Canalys reported today.

"In the United States, for example, we have seen the largest carrier, Verizon Wireless, heavily promoting high-profile Android devices, such as the Droid by Motorola and the Droid Incredible by HTC," Chris Jones, vice president and principal analyst at Canalys, said in a statement. "These products have been well received by the market, with consumers eager to download and engage with mobile applications and services, such as Internet browsing, social networking, games and navigation."

Canalys is reporting that Android, with 34-percent market share, is the leader for the second quarter in the U.S., beating out stalwarts RIM with 32 percent and Apple with 21.7 percent. "In the U.S., the smartphone market grew 41 percent year-on-year. Android devices collectively represented a 34 percent share of the US market in the quarter," says the Canalys statement, "and with growth of 851 percent (in the U.S.), Android became the largest smart phone platform in the country."

The Nielsen Company today also reports that the Android OS outsold the iPhone OS, iOS, for the first time last quarter among new smartphone users in the U.S.

Android had 27 percent of the U.S. market in the second quarter, compared with 23 percent for the Apple iPhone OS, with RIM still ahead with 33 percent, Nielsen said on its Web site.

"While the iPhone has been the headline grabber over the last few years in the smartphone market, Google's Android OS has shown the most significant expansion in market share among current subscribers," says the Nielsen blog post. "Android's rise is even more noticeable among new smartphone subscribers in the last six months where Android has nosed past Apple's iOS in the last quarter to grab a 27 percent share of those recent smartphone subscribers."

TAGS:

Android, iPhone, RIM, Froyo, Android 2.2.

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