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One-third of all Android devices sold in China

The U.S. is the world's second-largest Android market, accounting for 11 percent of all Android sales.

China is now the world's largest Android market, market researcher Informa said today.

Informa estimates that about 786 million smartphones will be sold worldwide by the end of the year, up 45 percent compared with 2011. Total Android-based smartphone sales this year will hit 461 million units. One-third of all of the Android devices sold in 2012 were sold in China, making it the world's largest Android market.

That figure becomes all the more staggering when one considers that the United States is in second place with 11 percent of all Android device sales this year.

The fact that Android was a major success this year isn't especially surprising, considering research firm IDC revealed recently that the operating system accounted for 75 percent of the global smartphone shipments during the third quarter. That was up from a 57.5 percent share in the third quarter of 2011.

Android is running on two-thirds of all smartphone sold in China this year, Informa said, and on half of all the mobile phones sold in the U.S.

That's especially bad news for Apple's iOS, which could only muster a 5 percent share of the China handset market this year. Microsoft's Windows Phone owns only 1 percent of the Chinese market.

Still, Apple has been enjoying some success in China. The company last week launched the iPhone 5 in that country and sold 2 million units in its first three days of availability, becoming Apple's best China smartphone launch yet.

Looking ahead, things will continue to improve for Android, though it's possible that the operating system could hit a peak at some point in the next few years.

"Looking forward, Android is expected to continue gaining market share globally and, by 2015, one in every two handsets sold worldwide will be powered by it," Informa principal analyst Malik Saadi said today in a statement. "However...the market share of this platform could potentially peak -- or even decline -- after 2016 owing to a more aggressive penetration of the alternative OSs, most notably Windows Phone."