Android Helps Samsung, HTC Double Market Share: IDC

Google's Android platform has helped Samsung and HTC grow their smartphone market share in the first quarter, as the companies challenge Apple's iPhone and other Android phone makers.

Google's Android operating system has helped smartphone makers Samsung and HTC roughly double their market share, as the smartphone market accelerated in the first quarter from a year ago, according to IDC.

Nokia, Apple and RIM paced the smartphone market with 24.3 percent, 18.7 percent and 14 percent market share for Q1, respectively.

While Apple's iPhone has proven to be a juggernaut for Apple, Nokia saw its share bleed heavily, falling from 38.8 percent in Q1 2010. RIM dropped from 19.1 percent over the same period.

After the iPhone, Android is where the magic is happening in the market. This table from the researcher shows that Samsung grabbed 10.8 percent share for the first quarter compared to 4.3 percent from the year-ago quarter.

Samsung's Galaxy S devices shipped more than 10 million units in 2010, with the phone maker's Galaxy Ace and Galaxy mini devices also selling well.

Sprint just launched the Samsung Nexus S 4G and though delayed, the Samsung Droid Charge will be a quality device when it appears on Verizon's 4G LTE network.

HTC, meanwhile, grew Q1 to 8.9 percent, up from 4.9 percent in Q1 2010. IDC said HTC's growth came largely from its HTC Inspire 4G, HTC Evo Shift 4G, and the HTC ThunderBolt, which sold more than 260,000 units on Verizon's network.

IDC analyst Kevin Restivo noted the rise of Android has allowed several suppliers to gain share quickly, which is how Android came to overtake both Apple's iPhone and Research In Motion's BlackBerry in market share last year. Android now commands 37.6 percent U.S. market share, said comScore.

"The relatively nascent state of smartphone adoption globally means there is ample room for several suppliers to comfortably co-exist, at least for the short term," Restivo added

That's good news for not only Samsung and HTC, but Motorola, which has placed its bets on Android smartphones and tablets, as well as more bit players such as Kyocera and LG, which would both love a larger Android smartphone footprint in the United States.

Overall, IDC said worldwide smartphone market grew 79.7 percent year over year in Q1 2011, and smartphone makers shipped 99.6 million units in Q1, almost double 55.4 million units shipped in Q1 2010.

IDC chalked up this buying burst to plenty of smartphone choices, from low-cost handsets to high-end handsets, great user demand, and even the markdown of older smartphones at lower prices.

For example, users were able to buy iPhone 3GS devices for $49, while Verizon sold Android phones for as low as 1 cent through Amazon Wireless last holiday season.

"Conditions in the smartphone market are creating a perfect storm for sustained smartphone growth," said IDC analyst Ramon Llamas.