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Android hits top spot in U.S. smartphone market

Boosted by a flurry of new Android handsets launched in the second quarter, Google's mobile OS now leads the smartphone market in the U.S. with a 33 percent share, says NPD Group.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
3 min read

Android is now the leading smartphone operating system in the U.S. in market share, according to a report released Wednesday by NPD Group.

Following a slew of new smartphones released in the second quarter, the Android operating system accounted for 33 percent of all smartphones sold in the U.S. consumer market. That number pushed it ahead of Research In Motion with 28 percent and Apple with 22 percent. It also marked the first time since the fourth quarter of 2007 that RIM dropped to second place, said NPD.

Among the top five Android phones, the Motorola Droid was the best-selling handset in the quarter, followed by the HTC Droid Incredible, the HTC Evo 4G, the HTC Hero, and finally the HTC Droid Eris. Though Android's surge has helped it overtake RIM in market share, the Google OS-based phones still need to compete with heavy consumer demand for Apple's new iPhone 4.

"For the second consecutive quarter, Android handsets have shown strong but slowing sell-through market share gains [which measures the number of items sold against the number shipped] among U.S. consumers," Ross Rubin, executive director of industry analysis for NPD, said in a statement. "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."

RIM unveiled its new Torch phone with the BlackBerry 6 OS on Tuesday. But NPD sees the Torch's lack of large-screen allure as a negative compared with its bigger and similarly priced rivals Droid Incredible and Evo 4G.

The choice of BlackBerry, Android, or iPhone continues to play a strong part in determining the dominance of the mobile carriers. With 33 percent of all handsets sold in the U.S., Verizon Wireless has kept its top spot among all carriers for the last three quarters. AT&T holds the No. 2 spot with a 25 percent share, followed by Sprint with 12 percent, and T-Mobile with 11 percent.

NPD's report follows similar news from research firm Canalys, which found that Android shipments in the U.S. had jumped 886 percent in the second quarter from a year ago. A new study from Nielsen also discovered sales of Android phones outpacing those of the iPhone.

As U.S. consumers continue to snap up smartphones, they're also adding mobile wireless subscriptions as part of the package. Over the next five years, the U.S. will add around 80 million mobile subscriptions, according to a report from Pyramid Research, more than any other developed nation. As a result, revenue from mobile services is expected to surpass that of fixed-line phone services by the end of 2015.

Revenue from mobile data will rise from $46 billion last year to $56 billion this year and $107 billion in another five years. For the carriers themselves, revenue from providing mobile bandwidth is expected to climb from $34 billion last year to around $48 billion in 2015, according to Pyramid Research.

As the economy starts to revive, Verizon Wireless and AT&T should see growth in the mobile market reach 5.4 percent this year to capture 293.3 million subscriptions, with AT&T taking the top spot in market share.