Android Takes Over Top Mobile OS Spot

More smartphones running Google's Android mobile operating system were sold in the second quarter than any other OS, knocking RIM from the top spot for the first time since the fourth quarter of 2007, according to a report from market researcher The NPD Group.

Thanks to strong sales of new models such as Sprint's (NYSE: S) HTC EVO 4 and Motorola's (NYSE: MOT) Droid X, the Android OS accounted for 33 percent of all smartphones purchased between April and June, outpacing RIM (NASDAQ: RIMM) and Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) at 28 percent and 22 percent, respectively.

"For the second consecutive quarter, Android handsets have shown strong but slowing sell-through market share gains among U.S. consumers," said Ross Rubin, executive director of industry analysis for NPD, in the report. "While the Google-developed OS took market share from RIM, Apple's iOS saw a small gain this quarter on the strength of the iPhone 4 launch."

The news must be a bit unsettling for BlackBerry maker RIM, though it should be noted that the Canadian smartphone giant is close to rolling out its BlackBerry OS 6. Due out later this quarter, the new OS purportedly will include several new features, particularly those needed to support rich-media content, that will better position it to compete with smartphones from Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) and Apple.

Still, some analysts theorize that RIM's new OS may fall short for some consumers.

"Blackberry 6 will soon offer features that have been popular in recently launched Android handsets, such as support for capacitive touchscreens and a WebKit-based browser," Rubin said. "However, the Blackberry Torch lacks the large screen allure that has characterized the best selling Android devices at its price point, including the Droid Incredible and EVO 4G."

From a carrier perspective, Verizon Wireless continued to lead the way in the second quarter -- as it has for the prior three quarters -- with 33 percent of units sold using its wireless voice and data service. AT&T checked in second with 25 percent, followed by Sprint and T-Mobile at 12 percent and 11 percent, respectively.

The NPD Group points out that Verizon Wireless' ability to extend its leadership position was buoyed by an on-going, buy-one-get-one offer for all smartphones, including both RIM and Android models.

As far as pricing goes, the average cost of smartphones inched up 9 percent from the year-ago quarter to an average of $143 apiece in the quarter. The average selling price for all mobile phones came in at $90, up just 3 percent from the same period last year.

"In spite of an overall decline in the number of mobile phones purchased year over year, the ongoing popularity of both messaging phones and smartphones, which are generally more costly than standard feature phones, resulted in slightly higher prices for all mobile phones in Q2," the report said.

Larry Barrett is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.


Android, iPhone, smartphones, RIM, IOS