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Android powers 40 percent of U.S. smartphones

While many customers adopters tend to skew in Apple's favor, Nielsen says that the earliest of adopters are looking to Android.

Early adopters favor iOS but "innovators" tend to prefer Android. Nielsen

According to new data out of Nielsen, 40 percent of U.S. mobile consumers now use smartphones, up from 30 percent just one year ago. And of those smartphones, Android takes the biggest share of 40 percent, followed by Apple's iOS at 28 percent.

Nielsen asked participants a number of questions to determine what kind of buyers they were in order to better understand their attitude toward new technologies. The company found that while iOS tends to attract most early smartphone adopters, very early adopters (aka "innovators") tend to favor Android as the platform of choice.

Though "late adopters" tend to favor Android at 32 percent, there's a huge segment of people who have yet to decide which smartphone they'll buy next. At 30 percent, that's a sizable number of users who could easily sway the election in favor of a new top OS.

It's interesting to learn that neither RIM nor Microsoft figure much in the equation, no matter how early one adopts a smartphone. With a range of 6 percent to 11 percent, RIM just doesn't appear to be attracting new buyers. On the other hand, that's nearly double what Microsoft is able to muster with Windows Phone 7 (4 to 7 percent).

The fourth quarter could shake up these numbers a bit once some of these long-awaited handset like the iPhone 4, Android handsets equipped with Ice Cream, and Nokia's Windows Phone 7 devices. When buyers vote with their wallets will the iPhone 5 win with a landslide decision or will a slew of lower-cost Android handsets continue the platform's dominance? We'll have to wait and see.