During a three month period ending March 2011, comScore examined the U.S. smartphone market and concluded that 69.5 million people owned a smartphone during that time. This figure shows a 13% increase from the last study period, which ended in November 2010.
So which platforms did users (over the age of 13) prefer? Thirty-three percent chose Android, with 28.9 percent sticking with RIM handsets. Apple was the favorite among 25.2 percent of users. Microsoft and Palm brought up the rear, with 7.7 and 2.8 percent of the market share, respectively.
Google's Android platform is on fire, compared to comScore's findings from November 2010. Google's market share soared 7 percent while Apple's growth was basically stagnant, increasing 0.2 percent. RIM, Microsoft and Palm all lost ground during the same three month period. RIM, which was the market leader during comScore's study, fell 4.6 percent below its former market share, the worst loss among the platforms examined. During the same period, Microsoft shrank by 1.3 percent and Palm fell by 1.1 percent. To put the numbers in perspective, keep in mind that Apple's iOS operating system runs only on iPhones, whereas Google's Android software is available on a wide range of smartphone devices from a multiplicity of hardware manufacturers.
Business Insider explains the significance of Android's gain:
The Android gains matter because technology platform markets tend to standardize around a single dominant platform (see Windows in PCs, Facebook in social, Google in search). And the more dominant the platform becomes, the more valuable it becomes and the harder it becomes to dislodge. The network effect kicks in, and developers building products designed to work with the platform devote more and more of their energy to the platform. The reward for building and working with other platforms, meanwhile, drops, and gradually developers stop developing for them.