Android takes large lead in mobile OS share in third quarter

New data confirms that the Android platform has taken a commanding position in the smartphone market, thanks to wider distribution and a much broader selection of phone models than the iPhone. Data from research firm Canalys indicates that Android phones made up nearly 44 percent of all smartphones sold in the US in the third quarter.

Apple took second spot with 26 percent of the market, and RIM third with a little over 24 percent. Apple can take some solace in the results however: the iPhone still remains the best selling smartphone model by a significant margin.

Overall, Nokia was the top manufacturer, commanding a 33 percent share of the worldwide market. Apple followed in second with 17 percent, and RIM third with 15 percent. In the US market alone, Apple leads with a 24 percent share.

Canalys' data continues to reinforce the sentiment expressed by several analysts that its multiyear exclusivity deal with AT&T is beginning to take its toll on Apple's marketshare overall. The Cupertino company has likely acknowledged this, and could explain the increasingly louder rumors of a Verizon iPhone -- the first hint that it is indeed real could be Apple's deal with Verizon to sell the iPad.

Nevertheless, Android OS posted an astounding 1,309 percent increase in sales -- from 1.4 million in the third quarter of 2009 to 20 million this year. Canalys suggested that Android's ability to sell devices at a broad range of price points helped to accelerate sales.

"Android has been well received by the market and in some geographies it is becoming a sought-after consumer brand," Senior Analyst Pete Cunningham said. "It has rapidly become the platform to watch."

Overall the market grew 95 percent year over year, to over 80 million units.

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