Android phone sales blow by Apple iPhone in U.S.

Research in Motion owns the most mobile market share, but Google's Android is topping Apple 28 percent to 21 percent

Apple's iPhone might still be grabbing the lion's share of headlines, but phones powered by Google's Android operating system actually outsold iPhones in the United States in Q1, according to market watcher NPD's latest numbers.

NPD Group, which bases its findings based on 150,000-plus online consumer research surveys, found that Android phones such as the Droid and Droid Eris took a combined 28 percent share of the U.S. market for units shipped in Q1, second to RIM at 36 percent and ahead of Apple at 21 percent.

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"As in the past, carrier distribution and promotion have played a crucial role in determining smartphone market share," said Ross Rubin, executive director of industry analysis for NPD, in a statement.  "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."

AT&T had 32 percent market share in Q1, followed by Verizon (30 percent), T-Mobile (17 percent) and Sprint (15 percent).

[ Also see: 12 essential Android games ]

Mobile phone surveys are surfacing almost as fast as new phone models themselves.

According to Chitika Research's latest numbers, Android phones had a little more than a third as many impressions as iPhones in April, up from 23.5 percent in January. Chitika based its figures on more than 18.5 million impressions across its advertising network in North America.

AdMob, another online advertising company, also released smartphone numbers recently and found that Apple continues to dominate the worldwide and U.S. mobile handset markets with its iPhone and iPod Touch devices, but makers of Android phones are gaining ground.

Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch accounted for 37 percent of worldwide device share in March based on traffic, down from 40 percent in both January and February, according to AdMob. The share dropped from 43 percent to 38 percent in the United States. Meanwhile, Motorola inched up in the U.S. on the strength of its Android-powered Droid smartphone.

The Android OS is coming at Apple from all angles, even to the point where the mobile operating system has been ported to iPhone hardware, including the iPhone 3G.

All this isn't to say that the iPhone is fading. Fresh IDC data shows that Apple – with 8.8 million units sold globally in Q1 -- had the biggest Q1 increase of any smartphone maker in large part due to iPhone availability well beyond North America.What's more, an iPhone 4G is expected by many industry watchers to be unveiled at Apple's quickly sold out Worldwide Developers Conference. Apple, meanwhile, has also been teasing customers with beta releases of its latest iPhone OS.

Back to the NPD survey, a couple of other bits of interesting data: The average selling price for all mobile phones in Q1 increased 5 percent from the year before to $88. Smartphone pricing fell 3 percent over that span to $151.

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This story, "Android phone sales blow by Apple iPhone in U.S." was originally published by NetworkWorld.

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