Android jumps to top of the smartphone heap

The latest numbers from comScore show that Android has been kicking butts and taking names, but not from Apple.

Android has a message for other mobile OS platforms: "You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile." The latest results from comScore show that Android has ascended to the top slot for smartphone market share -- gobbling up market share from many of the rival platforms.

Between the November comScore report and now, Android has skyrocketed to the top -- grabbing seven percent more market share to claim an even 33 percent of the smartphone market. That jump in market share came largely at the expense of the RIM BlackBerry platform, which lost 4.6 percent. The remainder came from losses by Microsoft and Palm.

What is the secret to Android's success? Well, volume. Volume and diversity. While no single Android smartphone is even in the same ballpark as the Apple iPhone 4, and no single Android tablet is anywhere near the Apple iPad 2, the sheer quantity of Android smartphone and tablet options gives the Android platform as a whole an advantage.

With so many manufacturers developing gadgets on the Android platform, it's like throwing rice at the wall. Some will stick, most won't. But, even the Android smartphones and tablets that don't become notable successes in and of themselves will be picked up cheap by someone on eBay or Craigslist and still contribute to the platform market share.

Scott Schwarzhoff, VP of marketing at Appcelerator, points out that despite the inherent issue of fragmentation that seems to plague Android, the more open nature of Android is a benefit. In a January survey, three fourths of app developers responded that Android is "best positioned to power a large number of connected devices in the future," and nearly two thirds of the developers surveyed believe that Android has the best long-term outlook. Those results seem to be reflected in Android's continued march to dominate the smartphone landscape.

One other notable factoid from the comScore numbers, though, is that Apple's iOS also gained. Actually, the gain was so small that you might just call it a wash and say that iOS stayed even at about 25 percent. But, it demonstrates two things: 1) that Android is a larger threat to other mobile platforms than it is to iOS -- at least so far, and 2) that the addition of the Verizon iPhone 4 seems to have helped keep Apple from slipping.

The comScore numbers are a measure of smartphones, rather than the mobile platform as a whole. It will be interesting -- especially as more diverse tablets come to market -- to see how the mobile platform market share trends progress.

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Tony Bradley

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