Apple's (AAPL) iPhone 4 has propelled it to take the largest share of the U.S. smartphone market with 26 percent, but meanwhile, Google's (GOOG) Android operating system is showing up on nearly half the phones sold in America.
There are a bunch of numbers to keep track of, but it boils down to this: according to tech market research Canalys, Apple is ahead of the pack here at home with smart phone sales, and recently became the No. 4 mobile phone seller worldwide, edging out Blackberry maker Research In Motion (RIMM).
Apple is making big strides forward in the market when it comes to selling iPhones, but if you look at software, a different story is developing. Apple is fighting an OS war with Google, and so has to keep up the popularity of iOS or risk allowing phones with Google's Android to draw away customers.
Consumer research group NPD just made some figures known that say Apple's iOS is installed on 23 percent of smartphones in the U.S. market. That's up one percentage point since the last fiscal quarter. But meanwhile, Android is surging, appearing on 44 percent of smartphones sold in the country, and up 11 percentage points since last quarter. Android is also up from only being on three percent of phones last year -- a massive change. As far as RIM is concerned, it lost six percentage points to fall to 22 percent with its RIM OS.
The reason Google is making such a rally is because there are so many more phones that are using Android, while only the iPhone makes use of iOS. So the numbers can be misleading in that sense, seeing as iPhones are still outselling Android units. And it seems that Android's growth came mostly at RIM's loss, and not Apple's. But the trend does show Android picking up steam, which means it's becoming a bigger contender against Apple as it becomes a more viable alternative to iOS and an exclusive AT&T (T) contract in order to get an iPhone.
The real test of Android's popularity as it stacks up against the iPhone will be if, and when, Google releases the rumored Nexus 2 we heard about on Friday. That phone doesn't seem to be the step forward that the first Nexus was, but it will be another Android handset made by Google -- a direct analog to iPhone. If Google is creating the sort of Android loyalty Apple has built, we could see some scales tipping.