Gartner: Android Top U.S. Smartphone OS

Gartner is the latest research firm to confirm that Android has overtaken Research in Motion's BlackBerry to become the top-selling operating system in the U.S in the second quarter. Android's market share surged 30% to 34.1%, while BlackBerry fell 19% to 33.3%. Apple's iOS was third, dipping 3.2% to 22%.

Android also eclipsed Apple's iOS to become the third leading smartphone platform worldwide, behind BlackBerry and Symbian.

Reports last week from market research firm Canalys and NPD Group also flagged Android's ascendance to the top OS spot on the strength of its strategy to partner with multiple manufacturers and wireless carriers including Motorola, HTC and Verizon Wireless.

The growing popularity of high-end phones helped push total mobile phones sales worldwide 13% higher in the second quarter from a year ago. Smartphone sales accounted for 19% of total worldwide mobile phones sales, up 50% from the year-earlier period, according to new data from Gartner.

Likewise, smartphone sales to end users were up 50.5% from a year ago to 61.6 million units. But rising unit sales overall came at the cost of falling prices. "Although the mobile communication devices market showed double-digit growth this quarter, average selling prices (ASPs) were lower than expected and margins fell," said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner.

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The research firm attributed the dropoff to a stronger dollar, a depreciating euro and intense competition among manufacturers that drove down prices. Even with strong gains, Gartner suggested that quarterly sales could have been even higher if not for component shortages that impaired sales of new smartphones from Apple, HTC and Motorola including the iPhone 4 and Evo 4G.

Samsung saw the biggest jump in the second quarter, increasing unit sales 19.3% to 65.3 million. While the company's sales were strong in developing markets, its shift in product mix led a decline in the average selling price of devices. Gartner expects Samsung to be factor at the high end, however, as one of the first manufacturers to offer Windows Phone 7 devices in time for the holiday season.

Nokia remained the top phone maker overall in the second quarter, although its market share slipped to 34.2% from 36.8% a year ago as it continued to lag in the smartphone race. "Nokia's senior executives need to do more to attract developers and other ecosystem members by revising its platform strategy and improving its communications," according to Gartner. Easier said than done.

The firm also was not bullish on RIM's attempt to rejuvenate its smartphone fortunes with its new Torch phone. "We believe the Torch's form factor will still appeal more to business users than to consumers and will stop many loyal BlackBerry users defecting to other platforms, but it won't attract many new users to the brand," Gartner stated.

Despite supply constraints for the iPhone 4, Gartner expects the global rollout of the device will drive Apple's sales momentum throughout the second half of 2010.

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