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Summary:

ComScore today released research on the U.S. smartphone market and the trends from the past two years appear to be continuing. In fact, the numbers jive quite nicely with the worldwide data provided by Gartner just last month. Here’s a comparison and thoughts on future numbers.

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ComScore today released research on the U.S. smartphone market and if you follow the market, you won’t see any surprises. Research In Motion, Apple and Google are still on the upswing, while Microsoft and Palm market share is down in the October 2009 to January 2010 time frame. ComScore points out the numeric market share change, but as I said last month when Gartner reported similar data for the past year, those numbers don’t tell the whole story. For example, the comScore data shows Microsoft losing 4 points of market share while Palm only lost 2.1 points. Based on that, it’s logical to assume that Microsoft is doing “worse” than Palm. I don’t believe that’s the case and here’s why: the percentage loss between the two time periods is an accurate representation of the rate of loss. In that situation, Microsoft lost 20.3% of the market it held in October, but Palm lost 26.92% of the share it had. The rage of change — either positive or negative — shows the momentum a platform has, or doesn’t. In other words — Palm is losing more of what it had than Microsoft.

So if there aren’t any surprises, why bother to share the data? Here’s a key reason — the rates of change coincide quite nicely with the worldwide Gartner numbers from last month. More information from multiple sources corroborates the trends and that’s important since sources measure in different ways. One major difference in the two reports highlights the U.S. vs worldwide market variability — Gartner rightly includes Symbian in their numbers, while ComScore doesn’t. Symbian should be included, no matter how small a share it has in the U.S., in my opinion. And this is also the first report I’ve seen that pegs Google’s market share above that of Palm’s in the smartphone market.

Aside from those points, it’s striking to see the similarities in the rate of change between Gartner’s numbers and the ComScore data. Here’s the percentage change from Gartner to refresh you memory.

Both show that Google’s Android is growing at a far faster clip than any other platform right now. And the pair of data points both indicate a continuing decline for Microsoft and Palm. Two sets of independent data don’t confirm anything specific of course, but they verify the platform shift rippling through the smartphone market.

What’s the rest of 2010 look like?

I fully expect these trends to continue with little difference through the end of 2010. Apple will likely speed up its growth rate with a new handset model this summer. Research In Motion will continue modest gains — bigger ones if it can mature its operating system and add a WebKit browser this year. Android’s momentum is likely to continue as more handset makers latch on to the platform and additional carriers pick it up. Microsoft will keep losing ground in 2010, but is poised for gains next year with the new Windows Phone 7 Series devices. And Palm appears to be treading water as people wait to see how webOS continue to mature and if it comes to new hardware.

Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

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  1. You don’t expect Nokia to make any inroads? With Symbian^3 and MeeGo phones coming out this year? They have already released a phone with T-Mobile and I would assume there would be more with AT&T and T-Mobile coming up. Free offline nagivation with Ovi Maps could be useful if the carriers don’t require the mandatory smartphone data plan.

  2. The comment that Microsoft is “poised for gains” is a bit of crystal ball gazing. I don’t think it will happen.

    Microsoft’s WP7S is still a long way from getting to market, and when it comes, it will have relatively few handsets on the market. Android already has 60 devices on the market and that will be much higher when WP7S finally shows up.

    Microsoft is simply too late to market with this product. It will fail because it will lack the software applications of the other platforms (Android and iPhone app stores are now both huge). Microsoft’s WP7S simply won’t have enough handsets selling to create a viable developer ecosystem. Developers will remain focused on iPhone and Android.

  3. I wonder how prices of WinMo devices will continue this year, as I’ve already seen moderate declines in the price of the unlocked Touch Pro 2 of recent. My gut feeling says sales will simply flop.

    Time to look for a bargain in the coming months? Maybe.

  4. Is this only WebOS or does the Palm share include Palm OS.

  5. I am far happier with my HTC Touch than I would have been had I chosen the iPhone. Almost everyone at work has an iPhone I hear complaints about the service, lack of removable battery and memory card, and restrictions about what software can be installed.

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