ComScore U.S. Data Shows Android Leaping Over WebOS

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 (s rimm), Apple (s aapl) and Google (s goog) are still on the upswing, while Microsoft (s msft) and Palm (s 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.

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