Android market share spikes to more than 72 percent in Q3

Smartphone and tablet buyers bought Android products five times more often than Apple iOS devices, while RIM climbed back into third place

Smartphone and tablet buyers snapped up Android products five times more often than they chose Apple iOS devices during the third quarter, according to a new study from Gartner Research.

The 122 million Android devices sold in the quarter represent 72 percent of worldwide mobile sales. By comparison, just 115 million devices in total were sold during the same time period in 2011. It's also a roughly 100 percent increase over Android's year-on-year figures.

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Despite an overall year-on-year decrease in total mobile sales, smartphones increased their share of the larger market to nearly 40 percent. In terms of smartphone manufacturers, Samsung and Apple remained the clear top two, together accounting for 46 percent of the market. Samsung in particular had a good quarter, selling 55 million smartphones to Apple's 23.5 million.

Apple is likely to see a dramatic gain in the fourth quarter, however, as sales of new iPhones and iPads -- released late in the third quarter -- begin to take off ahead of the holidays. Gartner says Apple's fourth quarter is traditionally its strongest.

Different markets reacted differently to trends in mobile sales, according to Anshul Gupta, Gartner's principal research analyst.

"In China, sales of mobile phones grew driven by sales of smartphones, while demand of feature phones remained weak. In mature markets, we finally saw replacement sales pick up with the launch of new devices in the quarter," he said in a statement.

Among other platforms, Research In Motion lost overall market share but climbed back into third place behind iOS and Android after Symbian slid precipitously and Windows Phone continued to be mired in the single digits, the researchers said.

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