Android Accounted for 40% of Smartphones Sold: Nielsen

Android ran 40 percent of U.S. smartphones purchased in the six months leading up to November. However, Nielsen noted Apple remains the overall smartphone market leader.

Google's Android operating system powered 40.8 percent of smartphones purchased in the last six months, though Apple iOS led the United States in consumer market share, according to the Nielsen Company.

Since June 2010, 27 percent of devices purchased ran iOS, while 19 percent bought were Research In Motion BlackBerry handsets, according to the market researcher's November data.

Google's Android creator Andy Rubin may have foreshadowed the increase in December when he tweeted that therewere 300,000 daily activations of Android phones. Some of these were no doubt buoyed by strong holiday sales in November.

Verizon Wireless offered sharply discounted Samsung Galaxy S devices such as the Continuum for $99, and even made several Android handsets available for sale to new customers through Amazon Wireless for one penny. Samsung said on Jan. 6 it has shipped 10 million units of its Galaxy S devices since June 2010.

Overall, Android's market share tallied 25.8 percent, up from Nielsen's October Android count of 22.7 percent.

Apple iOS, locked in a statistical tie with RIM's BlackBerry OS through October at 27 percent, led with 28.6 percent.

RIM, which commanded 34 percent of the U.S. smartphone market in June, continued its sharp decline, sliding to 26 percent of the market.

This plot put it within the margin of error of both Apple iOS and Android, prompting Nielsen to conclude that "RIM remains statistically tied with both Apple for first and Android for third."

Even so, Nielsen cheerfully noted that through November, 45 of recent handset purchasers picked a smartphone over a feature phone.

The strong demand for smartphones may give RIM small comfort in taking the No. 3 position, assuming the company's fall slows and iOS and Android don't continue their upward march.

Smartphones, particularly Android handsets and Windows 7 devices, should spark great interest at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show this week.

However, early word is that tablets based on Android, and possibly Microsoft Windows 7, will rule the roost.