NPD: Android soars to 53% of U.S. smartphone sales in Q4

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Devices running Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android mobile operating system encompassed more than half of all U.S. smartphone sales in the fourth quarter of 2010 according to market research firm NPD Group. Android increased its U.S. market share lead to 53 percent as 2010 closed, up 9 percentage points over Q3--Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS slipped 4 percentage points to account for 19 percent of sales, tied with Research In Motion's (NASDAQ:RIMM) BlackBerry (down 2 percentage points). NPD notes that Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) legacy Windows Mobile OS dropped 3 points to 4 percent of the U.S. market, while its new Windows Phone 7 debuted at 2 percent, deadlocked with Palm's webOS. The firm adds that Windows Phone 7 claimed a smaller market share at launch than either Android or webOS during their respective debuts.

Apple's iPhone 4 was the best-selling mobile phone in the U.S. during the fourth quarter, followed in descending order by Motorola's Droid X, HTC's Evo 4G, the iPhone 3GS and Motorola's Droid 2. For the first time ever, NPD's quarterly Top Five sales chart did not include a feature phone device.

Android is now the top-selling smartphone OS worldwide as well--Android unit shipments surpassed Symbian device shipments for the first time in the fourth quarter according to data issued technology analysis firm Canalys. Android shipments topped 33.3 million in Q4, translating to a 32.9 percent share of the global smartphone market, Canalys reports; a year earlier, Android shipments represented just 8.7 percent of the worldwide market, a 615.1 percent leap. Symbian shipments grew from 23.9 million in Q4 2009 to 31.0 million in the most recent quarter--however, its worldwide market share plummeted from 44.4 percent to 30.6 percent during that time.

iPhone shipments increased from 8.7 million in Q4 2009 to 16.2 million a year later--its smartphone market share slipped from 16.3 percent to 16.0 percent. BlackBerry fell from 20.0 percent market share to 14.4 percent as device shipments increased from 10.7 million to 14.6 million--Windows Phone also stumbled, with its market share falling from 7.2 percent to 3.1 percent as smartphone shipments decreased from 3.9 million in Q4 2009 to 3.1 million a year later. Total worldwide smartphone shipments surpassed 101.2 million in the fourth quarter, up 89 percent year-over-year.

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