Android emerges as clear leader in U.S. smartphone platform market

Google's mobile OS surges past RIM's BlackBerry, comScore reports

More than one-third of U.S. smartphone subscribers now own devices powered by Google's Android mobile operating system.

Market research firm comScore on Friday released its latest survey of more than 30,000 U.S. smartphone owners which showed that 34.7 percent owned Android phones in the three months ended March 31, up from 28.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Overall, comScore said, there were 72.5 million smartphone owners in the U.S. in the three months ended March 31, up 14.7 percent from the 63.2 million in last year's fourth quarter.

(Also see: Marketing isn't RIM's big problem)

Android phones dislodged Research in Motion's BlackBerry from the top spot in the U.S. RIM saw its market share fall to 27.1 percent from 31.6 percent in Q4. Worse, RIM's market share in September 2010 alone was 37.6 percent, nearly double Android's 19.6 percent. That must seem like a long time ago to the folks at RIM.

Apple was the only mobile OS maker besides Google to gain market share, as the iPhone iOS inched up to 25.5 percent from 25.0 percent. (The iPhone's market share last September was 24.2 percent.) It's possible Apple could get a bump from people waiting for the iPhone 5 and others playing out long contracts with AT&T.

Not surprisingly, Microsoft and Palm saw their already small market share get smaller. Microsoft's windows-based mobile platform was used by 7.5 percent of comScore survey respondents in the first quarter, down from 8.4 percent in the previous quarter. Palm fell to 2.8 percent from 3.7 percent.

comScore also asked U.S. mobile subscribers how they used their phones. The top usage by far is text messaging, with 68.6 percent reporting texting in the first quarter, up from 68.0 percent in Q4.

After texting, the second most-popular use of smartphones in Q1 was Internet browsing (38.6 percent), followed by "used downloaded apps" (37.3 percent), "accessed social networking site or blog" (27.3 percent), "played games" (25.7 percent) and "listened to music on mobile phone" (17.9 percent).

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