Android swamps iPhone, tops U.S. market, jumps to number 2 worldwide

What appears to be an Android juggernaut continues, with two reports saying that Android phone shipments top the U.S. smartphone market and one adding that it trails only Nokia worldwide. The only way competitors seem likely to catch up is via lawsuits.

One report, from Canalys, says that Android phones had a 44% share of phones purchases for the U.S market in the third quarter, with iPhones coming in second at 26%. In raw numbers, that means 9.1 million Android phones and 5.5 million iPhones.

Worldwide, the report said, Nokia shipped 33% of all smartphones in the quarter, followed by Android with about 25%, with the iPhone at 17%, and RIM at 15%. The report found that sales of Android phones jumped an astonishing 1,309% compared to last year.

The reports noted that:

Once again this quarter, it was devices running the Android platform that proved the greatest driver of growth in the worldwide market, up 1,309% year-on-year from 1.4 million in Q3 2009 to more than 20.0 million units in Q3 2010, forming a quarter of the market share.

The NPD Group also released a report today about smartphone shipments in the third quarter in the U.S. and they found the same thing that Canalys did. The report put Android at the top of the market for new smartphone shipments with 44%, followed by iPhone with 23%, and RIM with 22%.

Ross Rubin, the executive director of industry analysis for the NPD Group, said one reason for Android's success is, "Multiple manufacturers [with Android phones] provide more consumer choice in the marketplace." The Canalys report made almost the identical point, noting, "Android devices are available and affordable to consumers on almost any budget."

If competitors have their way, though, Android won't be available on many phones at many price points. They're ganging their lawyers up on the operating system and phone manufacturers who use it. Apple, for example, recently filed two lawsuits against Motorola, including against Android-based Motorola phones, Microsoft has sued Motorola as well as other Android phone makers, and even Oracle has gotten into the act, suing Google over the use of Java in Android.

Eventually, those suits will be settled, and don't be surprised if it takes years. Lawyers will be an afterthought. It looks like Android will become even more dominant, likely overtaking Nokia worldwide.

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