US sales of Android mobile phones surge past Apple in the first quarter

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The Independent Online

Sales of mobile phones that run Google's Android operating system (OS), including the Motorola Droid and Google's own Nexus One, outstripped the iPhone in America for the first time between January and March.

NPD Group, a US market research company, found 28 per cent of smartphones sold during the first quarter ran on Google-backed Android's OS.

They overtook sales of the iPhone, which recorded 21 per cent of the market. However, Android runs on more than 30 smartphone devices in the US, while Apple sells just one model. It is also expected to launch an upgrade next month. NPD found the market leader was Research In Motion (RIM), which makes BlackBerry devices, securing 36 per cent of the market in the first three months of the year.

This follows research by Gartner last year predicting that Android devices would surge to 14 per cent of the global market by 2012, ahead of the iPhone, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile.

Ross Rubin, the executive director of industry analysis for NPD, said the popularity of smartphones in the US was driven by competition among the mobile operators. "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."

The forthcoming BlackBerry 6 and Windows Phone 7 devices are expected further to drive smartphone take-up. Mr Rubin continued: "Carriers continue to offer attractive pricing for devices, but will need to present other data-plan options to attract more customers in the future."

NPD compiled its data based on 150,000 online consumer research surveys each month, which are projected to represent all US consumers.

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