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Android Surpasses iPhone in Sales

Analytics group Nielson reported today that Android phones have surpassed the iPhone in market shares. The Android OS now makes up 27% of all new smart phone purchases in the U.S., ahead of the iPhone’s 23%. However, these numbers are from the second quarter of the 2010 fiscal year, and may not reflect recent hubbub over the iPhone 4.

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Looking at total phone subscribers, Blackberry and iPhone are still the market leaders at 35% and 28%, respectively. However, Android figures have made the most dramatic ascent in recent quarters (as Microsoft Windows Mobile makes its forlorn decline down the ranks).

This may be a result of the enormous fleet of Android OS smart phones released in comparison to the iPhone that comes around once a year. Every U.S. carrier now supports multiple Android devices; this flexibility is a clear advantage over the AT&T exclusive iPhone. But also, iPhone purchases may have winded down in the past few months in anticipation of the iPhone 4.

The iPhone still holds its ground in customer loyalty. 89% of iPhone users surveyed would still buy another iPhone next. 71% of Android users said they would still stick to Androids, but 21% said they would switch to an iPhone.

Other smart phone companies are getting carved up in the process. Only 42% of Blackberry owners will remain with Blackberry phones, while about half the users will switch to either iPhone or Android.

Another important market segment to monitor for this mobile device competition is app development. Right now, Apple provides the best development environment. However, if Android begins to take away from that market with sheer phone sales and a better Android Market, then Apple may really be in trouble.

In general, smart phones are selling at a ridiculous pace. As Google employee Tim Bray says in a blog post, over a billion are sold per year, and the number of active phone subscriptions is somehow larger than half of the global population. This market is growing at a rampant pace, and companies are fighting tooth and nail for a bit of it.