Android, Apple Eat RIM Share in Q3, Say Researchers

Google's Android platform shipped on more than 40 percent of smartphones, trumping Apple iOS and Research In Motion BlackBerry smartphones, said Canalys and the NPD Group.

Google's Android operating system led Apple iOS, Research In Motion BlackBerry and others in growth for the third quarter, shipping on more than 40 percent of new smartphones, according to research from Canalys and the NPD Group.

Android shipped on 44 percent of all smartphones in the United States for the third quarter, up 11 percentage points from the second quarter, the NPD Group said. Popular Android handsets in the United States included Motorola's Droid X and Droid 2, HTC's Droid Incredible and Evo 4G, and Samsung's Galaxy S line.

Apple iOS, whose meteoric rise up the smartphone rankings has been tempered by Android's own popularity, gained 1percentage point to hit 23 percent of all installations. Its iPhone 4, launched in late June, was the top-selling smartphone.

Despite having the second highest-selling smartphone in the BlackBerry Curve 8500, RIM saw its share further eroded by Android and iOS: RIM dropped to 22 percent from 28 percent in the second quarter.

"The HTC Evo 4G, Motorola Droid X and other new high-end Android devices have been gaining momentum at carriers that traditionally have been strong RIM distributors, and the recent introduction of the BlackBerry Torch has done little to stem the tide," said Ross Rubin, executive director of industry analysis for NPD.

Android's rise from 2009 to 2010 has been impressive. When it compared its Q3 2009 Android numbers to the current stats, NPD discovered RIM OS share declined 53 percent, with Apple iOS dropping 21 percent.

Canalys' research supports this, noting that Android handsets worldwide were up 1,309 percent year-on-year from 1.4 million in Q3 2009 to more than 20.0 million units in Q3 2010. That's good for 25 percent market share.

For the most part, Canalys reported similar smartphone shipment stats to NPD, noting that Android's share was 43.6 percent to NPD's 44 percent estimate.

Canalys Senior Analyst Pete Cunningham noted that, while Android is featured on leading high-end smartphones, it also appears on lower-end devices such as the LG GT540 Optimus and Huawei's Vodafone 845, "ensuring that Android devices are available and affordable to consumers on almost any budget."

Canalys said Apple grabbed 17 percent of the worldwide smartphone shipment share, passing RIM at 15 percent for the quarter. The story is worse for RIM in the United States, with Apple taking 26 percent share to RIM's 24 percent plot.

Interestingly, Rubin noted that while the iPhone has held its own at AT&T, Apple faces challenges in expanding its domestic market share versus Android on the lone carrier.

That comment comes as Verizon is reportedly set to launch the iPhone, possibly as soon as January 2011. That should prove a major disruption in the smartphone market, with the iPhone winning back gobs of lost share from Android and crunching RIM even more.