Android growth may give Apple, RIM some pause

In the three month period ending in May, Google's Android was the only platform to measure market share growth according to data from research firm comScore. While Research in Motion and Apple still lead the way, both lost share during the period.

RIM had 41.7 percent of the platform market, down about a half a point from February. Apple's iOS came in second with 24.4 percent, down a full percentage point. Third was Microsoft's Windows Mobile, who fell nearly two percent to 13.2 percent for the period.

Some of Apple's loss in share could be explained away by the fact that consumers may have held off phone purchases ahead of the highly anticipated iPhone 4. At the same time however, this was the second survey to show either flat or declining growth.

Android had its strongest showing yet, up four percentage points to 13.0 percent. This wasn't as good as the December to February period, when it gained an impressive 5.2 percent -- but shows the rapid growth Google's mobile operating system is enjoying.

What is behind such massive growth in such a short time? Simply put, its partners are consistently putting out phones that have been able to do well in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

HTC's Droid Incredible is a recent example, which Verizon has had a tough time keeping in stock. Previous to that, the Motorola Droid spurred Android growth, and differentiated itself from Apple's iPhone by reminding consumers what it could do that Cupertino's iconic phone could not.

It could also be argued that phones like Sprint's EVO 4G -- which began selling last month (apparently very well from reports) and would not be included in these numbers -- may signal even more rapid growth for Android.

While Apple may seem to be Google and Android's primary target, there still is a behemoth in RIM standing in both of their way. Despite its stagnation in market share, the company still holds a sizable chunk of the market and may be extremely difficult to dethrone.

The reason here is how entrenched RIM has become in the enterprise sector. The company's position could be arguably similar to that of Nextel: who, while essentially a non-player in the consumer market still is able to carve a sizable chunk due to its entrenchment in government, specialized trades, and some portions of the enterprise sector.

Will Android -- or iOS -- be able to take out the 800 pound gorilla in the room? It's hard to say, but it surely is not going to be easy, especially with BlackBerry 6 rapidly approaching, and continued rumors of a forthcoming BlackBerry tablet.

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