Android Continues to Gobble Up Mobile OS Share

Google's wildly popular Android mobile operating system gained even more momentum in the third quarter at the expense, primarily, of Research In Motion's BlackBerry devices, according to latest smartphone industry data.

According to market researcher NPD Group, Android expanded its lead among mobile operating system providers with 44 percent of smartphones sold in the quarter, up 11 percent from what was a blowout second quarter.

Meanwhile, Research In Motion's (NASDAQ: RIM) BlackBerry OS tumbled to third place in the third quarter, slipping from 28 percent to 22 percent. Apple's iOS inched up 1 percent to 23 percent, good enough to take over the No. 2 spot among mobile OS installed on new smartphones sold in the quarter.

"Much of Android’s quarterly share growth came at the expense of RIM, rather than Apple," Ross Rubin, executive director of industry analysis for NPD, said in the report. “The HTC EVO 4G, Motorola Droid X, and other new high-end Android devices have been gaining momentum at carriers that traditionally have been strong RIM distributors, and the recent introduction of the BlackBerry Torch has done little to stem the tide."

In fact, Android's success has buoyed the sales for manufacturers such as Motorola and HTC, increased wireless subscribers and data plan sales for all the major carriers and mobilized the mobile application developer community.

For competitors, particularly RIM, the year-over-year comparisons are even less flattering.

NPD's Mobile Phone Track report found that RIM's mobile OS unit share fell 53 percent from the third quarter of 2009 while Apple's iOS shed 21 percent.

"There has not been much share left to grab from the other operating systems" Rubin said. "The iPhone has held its own at AT&T, but Apple faces challenges in further expanding its domestic market share, while still retaining exclusivity."

According to NPD, four of the top five best-selling handsets in the third quarter were of the smartphone variety, led by Apple's iPhone 4. The LG Cosmos was the only non-smartphone to make the list (No. 3) while the Motorola Droid X and HTC EVO 4G carried the water for the Android OS. RIM's BlackBerry Curve 8500 checked in second behind the iPhone 4.

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


Android, iPhone, smartphones, research, RIM