There's a new cell phone king. Smartphones powered by Google Inc.’s Android operating system passed Apple Inc.’s iPhone and previous king Blackberry in U.S. market share in the most recent report from Nielsen.
The numbers come from the November through January time period, before Verizon Wireless began selling Apple’s (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPhones.
Android claimed about 29 percent of the U.S. market in the period, followed by Apple and Blackberry maker Research in Motion Ltd. (Nasdaq: RIMM), tied at No. 2 with 27 percent each.
Unlike Apple and RIM, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) licenses its Android operating system to other device makers, with HTC and Motorola selling the devices that count for most of its share.
Most of the difference appears to be in the larger share of the 18-24 age market that Android devices claim. AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), which has 1,500 employees in the Dayton region, had exclusivity for the iPhone until Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) was granted rights to sell the iPhone. Verizon is selling its iPhones through its stores as well as at Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE: WMT) and Best Buy Co. (NYSE: BBY) stores. A recent report also said Android was gaining fast in the tablet market, but that report was before Apple launched its iPad 2 this week.
Competition is heating up even more in the mobile tablet category though as Dell Inc. (Nasdaq: DELL) announced that it will produce a tablet with the Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) operating system, according to the report. And that Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) is planning a tablet as well.