May 11, 2011, 4:22 PM

Once again: Android leaps, iPhone holds, BlackBerry drops

The trend in smartphone market share couldn’t be clearer. But don’t forget Apple’s other devices.

Bill Siwicki

Managing Editor, Mobile Commerce

Lead Photo

Smartphone market share numbers are starting to sound like a broken record. Google Inc.’s Android mobile operating system is a shooting star, Apple Inc.’s iPhone seems stuck, and Research in Motion’s BlackBerry, which once overwhelmed the smartphone market, continues to plummet.

The latest numbers from comScore Inc. confirm the clear trend indicated by various research firms. According to the web and mobile web measurement firm, devices running Android accounted for 28.7% of the market in December 2010 and jumped 6 points to 34.7% in March 2011. For the same period, BlackBerry smartphones dropped 4.5 points from 31.6% to 27.1%; iPhones inched up a half of one point from 25.0% to 25.5%; devices running Microsoft Corp.’s Windows Mobile and Windows Phone fell nearly a point from 8.4% to 7.5%; and Palm smartphones dropped nearly a point from 3.7% to 2.8%.

However, what numbers like these fail to mention are Apple’s iPod Touch mini-computer and iPad tablet PC. While these are not smartphones, they do run the same mobile operating system, iOS, as the iPhone. As a result, any mobile app a retailer builds for the iPhone can also be used on Apple’s other two popular devices. On the iPad, however, they appear onscreen only as big as they would on an iPhone or iPod Touch; a consumer can increase the size of the app to fill the iPad screen, but the image loses some resolution in the process.

According to comScore, in the U.S. there are 37.9 million devices running Apple iOS, which include the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. That’s 59% more than the 23.8 million devices running Android, comScore says.

“Apple, and now Android, have a lot of devices on the market that are not smartphones,” says Julie A. Ask, a vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research Inc. who specializes in m-commerce. “Apple has had the iPod Touch for years and now has tablets. Android tablets are now selling. So market share of what? What we need is market share of portable and connected devices we carry with us. This is mostly mobile phones, but portable media players and tablets are also important devices to reach. Also, we know that Apple and Android owners download more applications so they tend to rise to the top for retailers considering mobile apps.”

ComScore also examined what smartphone users were up to in March. 68.6% sent text messages, up from 68.0% in December 2011; 38.6% browsed the web, up from 36.4%; and 37.3% used mobile apps, up from 34.4%.

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