Gartner: Android fuels 52% of smartphone sales in Q3

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Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android mobile operating system powers 52.5 percent of all smartphones sold worldwide during the third quarter of 2011, more than doubling its global market share over a year ago, according to new data issued by research firm Gartner.

Worldwide mobile device sales during the third quarter totaled 440.5 million units, Gartner reports, with smartphone sales reaching 115 million, up 7 percent quarter-over-quarter and 42 percent year-over-year. Sales of Android smartphones topped 60 million, more than tripling sales of Symbian-based products at 19.5 million (translating to a market share of 16.9 percent, down from 36.3 percent a year ago). Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone follows with sales of 17.3 million, up from 13.5 million a year ago; its global market share nevertheless dipped to 15.0 percent from 16.6 percent in the third quarter of 2010.

Sales of smartphones running Research In Motion's (NASDAQ:RIMM) BlackBerry increased to 12.7 million in the third quarter, compared to sales of 12.5 million a year earlier. BlackBerry's market share still eroded from 15.4 percent in the third quarter of 2010 to 11.0 percent in the most recent quarter. Samsung's Bada increased year-over-year sales to 2.5 million from 920,000, doubling its market share to 2.2 percent from 1.1 percent, and Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Mobile/Windows Phone sales fell to 1.7 million from 2.2 million, a marketshare dip to 1.5 percent from 2.7 percent.

"Android benefited from more mass-market offerings, a weaker competitive environment and the lack of exciting new products on alternative operating systems such as Windows Phone 7 and RIM," Gartner principal research analyst Roberta Cozza said in a statement. "Apple's iOS market share suffered from delayed purchases as consumers waited for the new iPhone. Continued pressure is impacting RIM's performance, and its smartphone share reached its lowest point so far in the U.S. market, where it dropped to 10 percent."

Looking ahead at the fourth quarter, Gartner anticipates that Apple will bounce back following the October release of the iPhone 4S, which enjoyed the company's strongest-ever smartphone preorders. The forecast adds that markets like Brazil, Mexico, Russia and China are becoming more important to Apple's global fortunes, accounting for 16 percent of overall sales--a percentage expected to grow following price cuts on the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4.

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