Android Passes IPhone

Android passed the iPhone to become the second-most popular mobile operating system in the U.S., according to market research firm ComScore.

The report said Android surged to capture 26 percent of the market, from 19.6 percent in August, gaining enough ground from frontrunner Research in Motion and other competitors to beat out Apple, which had a 25 percent share.

Android upward swing continues with the success of several hit handsets, including Motorola’s Droid series and the Samsung Galaxy S line. Both brands are sold under various names by all four national carriers.

The iPhone also gained, but at a modest 0.8 percent gain. But analysts expect an uptick in iPhone ownership, however, when Verizon launches its own version of the iPhone next month, breaking AT&T’s long-held exclusivity. On the other hand, AT&T plans to release 12 Android phones this year, which should help keep Google’s sails full.

“If you put on your hat as a software developer or publisher, it can be easier to make products that work on the iPhone,” said Mark Donovan, a ComScore senior analyst. “Android is doing a great job of getting consumer penetration. But there are still challenges vis a vis Apple.”

BlackBerry maker RIM, meanwhile, fell to 33.5 percent of the market, down from 37.6 percent, as the company’s edge from its successful messaging service keeps being eroded. Smartphones running Microsoft’s new Windows Phone 7 platform, launched in November, weren’t fully accounted for in the survey, since they required three month averages starting in August. But Windows Phone 7 will likely mark a reversal of fortune for Microsoft, if customers can forget its maligned predecessors.

In August, NPD reported that Android had already taken the top spot with 33 percent of the market, while Nielsen found that BlackBerry was still the leader, with Android following just 5 points behind.

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