Google's Android mobile operating system (OS) is rapidly gaining market share in the US—particularly among new smartphone buyers—though it hasn't overtaken Apple's iOS, according to a report from The Nielsen Company

Apple's iOS was the top mobile operating system in November 2010, accounting for 28.6% of the smartphone OS market in the US, holding on to the lead it won in the previous month, when it passed RIM to become the most popular OS in the US.

RIM's BlackBerry's ranked second, accounting for 26.1% of the OS market in the US—a level within the margin of error of both Apple iOS and Android.

"In other words, RIM remains statistically tied with both Apple for first and Android for third," wrote Nielsen. "Apple's clear lead over Android notwithstanding, this race might still be too close to call."

Ranked third was Google's Android OS with 25.8%, up 3.1 percentage points (13.7%) from the previous month.

Android Gaining Among Newcomers

Among those who purchased a smartphone in the previous six months, 40.8% purchased the Android OS, up 3.2 points from the previous month, and up 13.3 points from 27.5% in June.

Apple followed with 26.9% of recent smartphone purchases, down 6.0 points from June, while 19.2% of new buyers chose the RIM BlackBerry, down 18.8 points from six months earlier.

All three leading mobile players, however, are benefiting from strong demand for smartphones: In November, 43% of recent acquirers bought a smartphone over a feature phone, underscoring how much room remains in market overall.

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Android Users More Data-hungry

As smartphone subscriptions rise, so too are appetites for mobile apps, services, and the mobile Web. However, compared with other major smartphone operating systems,* Android users consume far more mobile data than users of other smartphones, according to separate research from Arieso:

  • Android-powered smartphone users are particularly "data hungry," scoring higher than both the iPhone3G and iPhone 4 in data call volumes, time connected to the network, and data volume uploaded and downloaded.
  • Android-powered smartphone users also score highest in both the "uplink data volume" and the "downlink data" categories. For example, Samsung Galaxy users typically upload 126% more data than iPhone3G users, and HTC Desire users download 41% more data than iPhone3G users.
  • iPhone 4 users are more hungry for data than their iPhone3G counterparts, typically making 44% more data calls, downloading 41% more data to their devices, and spending 67% more time connected to the network for data.

* The Arieso analysis compares data consumption of users of newer smartphones, such as the BlackBerry Bold 9700, the Google Nexus One, the HTC Desire, the Sony Ericsson Xperia, and the Apple iPhone 4, against the iPhone3G as a "normalized benchmark." 

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As Android Surges, Smartphone Market Heats Up

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