Android Top Smartphone OS in the U.S.

Google's fast-growing Android operating system picked up significant bragging rights this week. According to the latest research from Nielsen, Android was the most popular operating system among U.S. consumers who bought smartphones in the past six months.

Apple's iOS and Research In Motion's BlackBerry OS came in tied for second in a statistical dead heat at 25 percent and 26 percent, respectively, about the same as the previous month.

By contrast, Android's share grew from 28 percent in July to 32 percent in August.

Reflecting the recent sharp uptick in August sales for Android, Nielsen's report shows BlackBerry leading with 31 percent in a breakout of operating system share among smartphone owners dating from January through August of this year. Apple comes in a close second at 28 percent, while Android comes in at 19 percent.

But Android's also made the most gains over the eight-month period, starting at 8 percent in January, rising to 13 percent in May and 16 percent in July, while BlackBerry and Apple actually dipped from highs of 36 percent and 29 percent shares, respectively, back in January.

The news comes at a time of growing competition among smartphone makers, a kind of mixed blessing for IT departments who have to deal with employees bringing new devices into the enterprise. Microsoft's long-awaited re-entry into the smartphone market with Windows Phone 7 is set to be launched next week.

Both consumer and IT buyers have also benefited from increased choices and feature sets, though choosing among a growing number of models and feature trade-offs can be daunting. The open source Android OS is the prime driver of new models as the software has been adopted by a wide variety of handset makers.

The smash success of Apple's iPad has also shaken up the mobile buying decision. Companies such as Dell, for example, have introduced a Streak tablet, and RIM recently previewed its PlayBook tablet, due out early next year, at the company's developer conference that's due out early next year.

David Needle is the West Coast bureau chief at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.


Google, Android, mobile, Apple, RIM