It may have once seemed inconceivable that Google's Android platform could not only catch up with iOS, but surpass it, however now it seems equally unlikely that iPhones will ever again outnumber Android smartphones. To wit, Android smartphones now lead iOS smartphones (iPhone devices) by a measure of more than three-to-one, according to data provided by market research firm Gartner.
Android smartphone sales totaled more than 60 million in the third quarter of 2011, giving Google's open source platform a 52.5 percent share of the market. Apple, meanwhile, shipped around 17.3 million iPhones in the same period, an annual increase of 21 percent, but down almost 3 million units from Q2, Gartner says. Apple's iOS market share is 15 percent, in third place behind Symbian (16.9 percent) and Android, and ahead of RIM (11 percent), Bada (2.2 percent), and Microsoft (1.5 percent).
"Android benefited from more mass-market offerings, a weaker competitive environment and the lack of exciting new products on alternative operating systems such as Windows Phone 7 and RIM," said Roberta Cozza, principal research analyst at Gartner. "Apple's iOS market share suffered from delayed purchases as consumers waited for the new iPhone. Continued pressure is impacting RIM's performance, and its smartphone share reached its lowest point so far in the U.S. market, where it dropped to 10 percent."
Consider this the upside to Android's fragmentation downside. There's no doubt that by having so many manufacturers build Android devices, Google's platform is well positioned to keep growing, and in fact more than doubled its market share since the third quarter of 2010.