Android is No. 1 OS, but Apple, RIM rule devices

Nielsen reports that Android is the most popular mobile OS. But among devices, Apple and RIM still dominate as the only two that make their own phones with their own operating systems.

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
2 min read

Google, Apple, and RIM are all vying for the top spot among the smartphones. But which one is dominant depends on whether you look at operating systems or devices, according to new data from Nielsen.

Among mobile operating systems, Google's Android has surged into first place in the United States, grabbing 29 percent of the market, compared with 27 percent for Research In Motion's BlackBerry OS and 27 percent for Apple's iOS.

That left a 10 percent share for Microsoft's Windows Mobile and Windows Phone 7 combined, 4 percent for HP's Palm WebOS, and 2 percent for Nokia's Symbian.


Drilling down further, the popularity of Android, iOS, and BlackBerry OS didn't differ much across most age groups. However, those in the 18-24 range showed a somewhat higher preference for Android phones, according to Nielsen's numbers released this week.

The latest data shows a surge for Android from last summer when Nielsen pegged its market share at 19 percent versus 28 percent for iOS and 30 percent for the BlackBerry OS.

But looking at the devices themselves, Nielsen found that Apple and RIM continue to be the major players in the U.S. compared with other manufacturers as they're the only ones making their own devices with their own operating systems. Their 27 percent market shares outshine third-place HTC, which has captured around 12 percent share with Android and 7 percent with Microsoft's mobile OS.

Motorola was the next manufacturer on the charts with 10 percent share with Android customers and 1 percent with Microsoft's mobile OS. Samsung followed with a 5 percent share with Android and 2 percent with Microsoft's OS.

Regardless of who's on top, the demand for smartphones continues to grow. In the last six months, 47 percent of consumers who picked up a mobile phone opted for a smartphone over a feature phone, according to Nielsen.

To compile its data, Nielsen surveyed more than 14,000 mobile subscribers from November 10 to January 11. As a result, the numbers don't factor in some of the recent developments in the mobile market, notably the debut of the Verizon iPhone.