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Android ready for smartphone wave

U.S. smartphones sales are up 47 percent as four of the top five handset makers plan Android phones.

The Galaxy was Samsung's first Android phone, but it has yet to receive a US launch date.

According to a report from The NPD Group, a leading market research company, smartphone sales are growing. The firm found that smartphones made up 28 percent of all U.S. handsets sold in the second quarter, which represents a 47 percent increase from a year ago.

Needless to say, smartphones aren't going away. And as their numbers continue to grow I expect that Google Android devices will play a big part. Here's a look at the rumored, or acknowledged, Android plans from the top smartphone manufacturers.

With nearly 4 out of every 10 phones sold worldwide made by Nokia, the company has long held a dominant position in the industry. Yet, Nokia's market share has been slipping since 2008. So what's next? Though rumors persist that Nokia is working on several Android devices, the company issued an outright denial.

Symbian remains the platform of choice for Nokia after they acquired the company last year, but Symbian devices are still rare in the U.S. market. Last month's AdMob Mobile Metrics report showed that Symbian had a 34 percent share of worldwide smartphone requests, but failed to even appear on the U.S. traffic report.

If Nokia wants a share of the growing U.S. smartphone market, it needs a different strategy than Symbian. So despite its Android denials, I don't think that a new operating system be a bad idea. The competition is fierce and only growing as the number of smartphones powered by iPhone, RIM, Android, and Windows Mobile operating systems increases.

Samsung has set its sights on high-end smartphones to increase its market share.This year, it became the second manufacturer with an Android phone when it released the Galaxy overseas. Last month the Galaxy won FCC approval for T-Mobile's 3G network, but the handset has yet to land at a U.S carrier.

Sprint should be getting Samsung's second Android phone when it launches the InstinctQ this holiday season. The device is rumored for an October 11 release date, but Sprint has yet to comment. We got an early look at the InstinctQ this week when pictures leaked.

LG was a founding member of the Open Handset Alliance, but it has yet to generate any Android buzz. It has produced a series of popular handsets such as the Chocolate, Venus, and EnV, but its smartphone lineup in the United States is limited. Android will be a welcome addition.

Motorola has been vocal about its support for the Android platform. The company is expected to release two Android phones this year for two carriers. And this October, Motorola will host a developers summit with Android as the central focus. As Moto appears to be the manufacturer most committed to Android, we should see it offer a wide variety of handsets in 2010.

Sony Ericsson
Sony Ericsson is also planning Android phones but has remained quiet on any announcements. Details and specs leaked about an upcoming Xperia X3 phone powered by Android, but Sony Ericsson declined to comment officially. The company have been losing market share since 2007 and a presence in the smartphone market could avoid further decline. Popular phone product lines such as the Walkman and Cyber-shot would be top candidates for an Android upgrade.

Look for things to heat up this holiday season. I expect that several handset makers are waiting for the launch of Android 2.0, which should arrive later this year. We were told to expect 15 to 20 Android devices before year's end, so smartphone shoppers should be in for a treat.