Android Usage Surges Again as iPhone Falls Flat

Google Android usage surged in the previous quarter while Apple iPhone usage stood flat, the latest indication that Google's mobile OS isn't just winning the war—it's destroying the previous market leader. In the United States, Android usage (not sales, actual overall usage) gained an amazing seven percentage points in the previous three months, according to comScore. And the results show that Android, not Research in Motion (RIM) BlackBerry or iPhone, now stands alone atop the smartphone market.

In a press release revealing the details of its study, comScore noted, "234 million Americans ages 13 and older used mobile devices ... for the three month average period ending in February. The study surveyed more than 30,000 US mobile subscribers and found Samsung to be the top handset manufacturer overall with 24.8 percent share. Google Android led among smartphone platforms with 33 percent share."

Android's 33 percent share of all smartphones used in the United States is up from 26 percent in the three months ending in November. The number-two player, RIM, saw its BlackBerry OS nosedive almost 5 percent in the same period, dropping from 33.5 percent of the market in November to under 29 percent by the end of February.

Apple's iPhone placed third with 25 percent of the market, a figure that is essentially unchanged from that of November. So although Apple did, in fact, sell more iPhones than before, it's not growing as fast as the market, and it has lost usage share. The Cupertino giant is set to release its next iPhone sometime this year. Various rumors suggest that Apple is waiting on better next-generation antenna technology so that it can offer a long-term evolution (LTE) version of the iPhone 5 on Verizon.

Meanwhile, Microsoft's recent release of Windows Phone did nothing to stem the company's smartphone usage-share losses. In fact, it's just gotten worse: Combined Windows Phone/Windows Mobile usage share was 7.7 percent in the previous three months, down 1.3 percent from November's 9 percent ranking. Microsoft's big hope—perhaps its only hope—for this platform now rests with new partner Nokia, which is racing to ship its first Windows Phone handsets by the end of the year.

Rounding out the top five is HP/Palm, which (like Microsoft) isn't seeing much success these days. Its webOS platform is responsible for just 2.8 percent of smartphone usage, down 1.1 percent from its previous perch at 3.9 percent. HP (again, like Microsoft) has big hopes for a 2011 turnaround, this time based on a new range of webOS products that include phones, tablets, and PC software bundles.

Smartphone hardware makers were also ranked by comScore. According to the firm, Samsung is the most popular maker of smartphone hardware, with almost 25 percent of the market, followed by LG, Motorola, RIM, and Apple. Additionally, it provided information about what subscribers are actually doing with their phones. The most cited activities include text messaging (69 percent), web browsing (38.4 percent), downloading apps (36.6 percent), accessing social network sites or blogs (26.8 percent), playing games (24.6 percent), and listening to music (17.5 percent).

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