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Android Use Grows In Q3 2011; Google's OS Remains Leading U.S. Smartphone Platform: Nielsen

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Android continues its reign as the leading smartphone platform of choice among U.S. smartphone users.

On Thursday, Nielsen released its third quarter smartphone report, which showed continued growth in the U.S. smartphone market.

Overall, Nielsen found, 43 percent of Americans with mobile phones have smartphones, while 57 percent have feature phones. That's a 5-percent increase in smartphone ownership over the past 6 months, reports Fortune.

Further highlighting the increase, Nielsen's report showed that in every age bracket examined, smartphone use has increased since last year. Not surprisingly, people aged 18-34 have increasingly adopted smartphones--more than any other group. About 20 percent more people in the 18-34 age now own smartphones, compared to Nielsen's figures from last year.

Meanwhile, the 12-17 year olds and 45-54 year olds have each increased their smartphone usage by 14 percent, while those aged 55-64 and 65 and over have increased their usage by 13 and 6 percent respectively.

Android's market share remains the leader among smartphone platforms, with 43 percent of users owning a smartphone that operates on Google's operating system. Apple, meanwhile, controls 28 percent of the market, and the other 29 percent is shared between BlackBerry, Windows and other platforms. According to a report released by Nielsen in July, Android has increased its share by 4 percent since July; Apple has stayed firmly at 28 percent.

According to Nielsen's smartphone market share report from the third quarter of 2010, it's BlackBerry, not Apple who is losing users to Android. Last year BlackBerry commanded 30 percent of the smartphone market and this year that number has fallen to 18 percent. Windows' user base has also shrunk dramatically since last year. In 2010 15 percent of smartphone users used Windows phones, today that number has fallen by more than half, leaving only 7 percent of smartphone owners carrying a Microsoft device.

Research company Forrester released a similar study on Thursday that found slightly more conservative smartphone use numbers. Their results indicated that about one-third or 33 percent of "young boomers" (ages 46 to 55) used smartphones, as opposed to the 39 percent that the Nielsen survey found.

Older Americans' relatively low adoption rates of smartphones may have as much to do with the culture of the United States, as it does with age. According to ComScore's 2010 Mobile Year in Review, in Europe, people 55 and older are 6 percent more likely to own smartphones than the same age group in the U.S. When the researchers looked at mobile media usage and brought Japan into the comparison, the difference was even more pronounced. Japanese people ages 55-64 were much more likely than either Americans or Europeans to do things like check email or access social media on a phone. According to the report, "The Japan market is perhaps one of the most mature and sophisticated mobile markets in the world."

Take a look at the charts (below) for a breakdown of the smartphone market in the past three months.

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