Google’s Android army outselling iPhone, research firm says


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Left to right: iPhone vs. Android. Credit: svensonsan / Flickr.

Google Inc.’s diverse and growing army of Android devices may now be outflanking Apple Inc. in the smart-phone wars, according to a technology research firm. New York-based NPD Group said that in the first quarter of 2010, Android devices outsold iPhones to become the second-most popular phone type sold during the quarter. The was the first time Android phones have racked up more sales than iPhone in the U.S.


This doesn’t mean Android-based phones actually outnumber iPhones. Even though Android phones sold better during one period of time, Apple is likely still significantly ahead of Google in the phone game.

Tech tracking firm comScore Inc. said its data from March showed Apple with a significant lead in market share, with 25% of smart-phone users owning its iPhone units, compared with only 10% for Google. Still, that represented a more-than-40% increase for Google-powered phones since January.

According to NPD’s sales data -- which are based on large consumer surveys -- Android-based devices accounted for 28% of the phones bought in the first quarter, while Apple’s domestic iPhone sales stayed relatively flat and dropped to third, with 21%. Research in Motion Inc.’s BlackBerry OS, with 36%, stayed on top.

If Android sales have indeed leapfrogged Apple’s, it may be largely due to Google’s promiscuous partnering philosophy -- in short, to get its operating system onto as many phones, served by as many wireless carriers, as possible. There are now more than 30 Android-powered devices from 12 equipment manufacturers. Android devices are available from every major wireless carrier, including T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint and AT&T.

Last week, we reviewed the newest Android addition -- HTC’s Droid Incredible.

Meanwhile, Apple’s iPhone is available only via its exclusive carrier, AT&T.

The NPD report also noted that the average price of a smart phone dropped slightly from a year ago, down 3% to $151.

-- David Sarno