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Google Android OS: More Popular Than Apple iPhone?

RIM's Blackberry remains the most popular smartphone operating system. But the real battle is for the No. 2 position, where Google's Android OS has overtaken Apple's iPhone, according to the NPD Group's research. What do the numbers mean for software partners and VARs? Here are some clues.

Dave Courbanou

May 11, 2010

2 Min Read
Google Android OS: More Popular Than Apple iPhone?

apple iphone vs google android

RIM’s Blackberry remains the most popular smartphone operating system. But the real battle is for the No. 2 position, where Google’s Android OS has overtaken Apple’s iPhone, according to the NPD Group’s research. What do the numbers mean for software partners and VARs? Here are some clues.

Quick refresher: The NPD Group is a market research company that digs into the numbers on consumer and retail sales. Their latest number crunching has shown RIM’s BlackBerry with 36% market share, followed by Android OS (28%) and Apple at 21%.

Some classic marketing tactics have allowed Blackberry to stay ahead of rival offerings. Ross Rubin, executive director of industry analysis at NPD, offered this perspective:

“As in the past, carrier distribution and promotion have played a crucial role in determining smartphone market share,…In order to compete with the iPhone, Verizon Wireless has expanded its buy-one-get-one offer beyond RIM devices to now include all of their smartphones.”

The report also details the success of the Droid, Droid Eris (and Blackberry Curve) as part of the reason why the phones gained such market share, while also helping Verizon compete with AT&T. (NPD’s research shows that AT&T has 32% of the smartphone market, while Verizon trails behind by just 2 percentage points.)

Still, some common sense analysis reveals why Android OS is catching on. For starters, Android OS runs on a multitude of third-party devices, while the iPhone OS runs solely on the iPhone. Considering that Apple trails only 7% to Google, that’s really not a huge gap if you think about it. Some would argue Apple’s iPhone OS has been in the wild much longer than Google Android, so Google Android’s momentum represents a clear victory. But let’s not forget: iPhone OS wasn’t taken so seriously until the App Store arrived.

What’s more, June 7 will mark the start of WWDC 2010 for Apple and the launch of the new iPhone. Combined with iPhone OS 4, expect sudden sales to jump. At that point, the gap between Android and iPhone could shrink.

But here’s a bit more pro-Google analysis. iPhone OS exists on the iPad, but Android OS will be running on a multitude of tablets (read: any hardware) in the near future. What does that mean? In the much-longer run, Android may actually become more ubiquitous than iPhone OS, though the gap in the mobile-phone market will remain to be seen.

Either way, it keeps both Google and Apple honest and in tip-top shape… though they still trail RIM’s Blackberry.

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