Android passes BlackBerry as No. 1 on smartphones

Google's Android OS outpaced RIM's BlackBerry OS and Apple's iOS for the iPhone in the latest U.S. smartphone market share study by comScore. By David Goldman, staff writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Android is now the most-used smartphone operating system in the United States -- a stunning race to the top from a platform that didn't exist just 27 months ago.

Nearly one third, or 31.2%, of U.S. smartphones ran Google's (GOOG, Fortune 500) Android OS in January, according to a study released Monday by comScore. That outpaced the 30.4% of American smartphone owners who use BlackBerry devices, which are made by Research in Motion (RIMM).

The meteoric rise of Android began in late October 2008, when HTC's G1 phone went on sale for T-Mobile users. The platform really started to take off when the Motorola (MMI) Droid went on sale in November 2009. Google's mobile OS began 2010 with just a 7% share of the smartphone market, but Android has grown by an astounding two percentage points each month since, on average.

Android was in fourth place as recently as May 2010, but it outpaced Microsoft's Windows Mobile in June. In November, Android overtook Apple's (AAPL, Fortune 500) iOS, which runs on the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. It finally conquered the mighty BlackBerry OS in the first month of this year -- vanquishing an operating system that had more than a 42% share of the U.S. smartphone market a year ago.

Now, 350,000 Android devices are activated each day, and there are more than 170 smartphones and tablets running Android, according to the search giant.

Much of Android's success can be chalked up to Google's open business model: Google licenses the mobile OS for free, allowing handset manufacturers to load the ready-made software onto their phones instead of paying a team of engineers to develop a proprietary platform. They can customize it as much as they like, too.

LG, HTC, Samsung, Motorola, and dozens of other handset makers have jumped onto the Android bandwagon -- and the ability to focus exclusively on the hardware allowed device manufacturers to start bringing phones to market much more quickly. In fact, the time it takes smartphones to go from concept to store shelves has been halved thanks to "Android's law."

Worldwide, Android beat BlackBerry last year, but it still trails Nokia's Symbian OS, according to Gartner. Nokia (NOK) recently announced that it would ditch Symbian, which has been rapidly losing market share, for Microsoft's (MSFT, Fortune 500) Windows Phone OS.

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop acknowledged that he had considered partnering with Google, but he said that Windows Phone offered more differentiation amid a sea of new Android devices. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,713.33 252.01 1.53%
Nasdaq 4,455.09 72.24 1.65%
S&P 500 1,954.14 27.03 1.40%
Treasuries 2.29 0.06 2.69%
Data as of 1:14pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Apple Inc 104.89 1.90 1.85%
Bank of America Corp... 16.68 0.28 1.68%
AT&T Inc 33.51 -0.99 -2.88%
Facebook Inc 80.17 1.80 2.30%
Microsoft Corp 44.88 0.50 1.12%
Data as of 12:59pm ET

Sections

Dunkin' Brands reported sluggish sales and warned that growth is going to remain slow. The coffee and breakfast wars are clearly having an impact on Dunkin' and other restaurants. More

Regulators are about to reveal the results of an extensive health check of Europe's top 130 banks, indicating which may need a cash infusion. More

Filmmakers are experimenting with virtual reality technology from companies like Oculus VR to create a new kind of cinematic experience. More

Startups focusing on "ag tech," or agricultural technology, are gaining the attention of farmers and investors More

Concern about the stock market has sent interest rate of 15-year mortgage to lowest level of the year. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.