Android has staged a healthy lead over Apple's iOS as the smartphone wars continue.
Looking at the first quarter of the year, NPD Group pegged Android's U.S. market share at 61 percent, a jump over the 49 percent recorded in last year's fourth quarter.
On the flip side, iOS lost ground with a 29 percent market share, down from 41 percent during 2011's final quarter.
Apple's holiday surge in customers came courtesy of heavy demand for the iPhone 4S, which debuted last October. After the new year kicked in, Android won back the lost ground to recapture the same market share it held during the third quarter.
But no tears need be shed for Apple. Though the company lost share last quarter, the baseline is now higher as a result of added iPhone distribution through Sprint, NPD said.
Collectively, Apple and Android now hold 90 percent of all smartphone sales in the U.S.
Smartphones overall failed to gain further traction as a percentage of all mobile phone sales. But they still grabbed 66 percent of all handset sales (post-paid and pre-paid) last quarter, according to NPD. All ten of the top-selling models in the first quarter were smartphones, half of them from Apple, three of them from Samsung, and one each from Motorola and HTC.
The smartphone market also has plenty of room left to expand. Almost half of all smartphone buyers last quarter moved up from a feature phone.
Who's buying all those smartphones?
More than two out of three people ages 25 to 34 own a smartphone, according to the latest research from Nielsen.
Men and women are split almost evenly, with 50.9 percent of female mobile users carrying a smartphone and 50.1 percent of men.
Asian Americans led the way in smartphone ownership with 67.3 percent using one as their main mobile handset. Almost three in five Hispanic mobile users now have smartphones, while a majority of African-Americans own one, Nielsen added.
Android also remains the top dog in the U.S., according to Nielsen, though the research firm gave it a 48 percent market share for last quarter, followed by Apple's iOS with 32 percent. But Apple continues to reign as the top smartphone maker.
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