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Shocker: U.S. Android Sales Surpass BlackBerry

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Google’s mobile handset platform continues to gain market share around the world, with 17.2 percent of all smartphones sold in the second quarter running the Android (s goog) operating system, according to data released by Gartner today. Not only did Android handsets outsell the iPhone (s AAPL), but they also outsold RIM’s (s RIMM) BlackBerry platform. According to Gartner, BlackBerry is now the no. 2 two smartphone OS in the U.S as Google took the top spot from April to June.

Android’s rise to prominence is nothing short of meteoric, considering the platform debuted on mediocre hardware and few third-party applications to speak of in October 2008. In that short time, the platform and its many vendors have not only crossed sales of Apple’s iOS, but now that of RIM. Meanwhile, the new BlackBerry OS 6 platform — intended to compete with the likes of iOS and Android — is only just now arriving with the new BlackBerry Torch, available today.

Gartner also finds that Android is nearly catching BlackBerry on a worldwide basis as well. RIM should be scared: Android is effectively taking away RIM’s chokehold on the enterprise market thanks to stellar native support for Gmail, as well as increasingly fuller-featured Microsoft Exchange (s msft) support. By offering top-notch messaging, Google is cutting the legs out from under RIM’s core competency. In terms of web browsing, touch-screen use, and third-party apps, Android is already well ahead of the BlackBerry platform.

It would be completely unfair of me to condemn RIM without a full review of the latest operating system on the BlackBerry Torch, and that’s not my intent here. (My review is coming next week.) Hopefully, a few more days with the device will wow me in an unexpected way. However, if my gut reaction to the BlackBerry OS 6 debut is valid — that it may be enough to keep current BlackBerry customers, but not enough to attract many new ones — RIM may have less time to fend off Google’s Android platform than some think. Platform sales numbers aren’t linear by any means, but I see no reason why Android won’t continue to gain market share at the expense of BlackBerry — or iOS, for that matter — in the U.S. now, and around the world in the future.

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

Why RIM’s Future (Unfortunately) Hinges on BlackBerry OS 6

45 Responses to “Shocker: U.S. Android Sales Surpass BlackBerry”

  1. Java Man

    Unfortunately for The Google they have stolen Intellectual Property from both Java and Linux camps. Android sales may come to a screeching halt soon. The Pirate of Mountain View should have known better than to mess with Larry and Steve.

    Oracle is about to pounce on Google big time. I am sure Google will claim they “accidentally” used Java IP in Android just like they “accidentally” put code in their mapping software that steals private WiFi data! Hopefully the courts will not buy this lame excuse for outrageous theft by The Google.

    Welcome to BOOM town Google ! Steve and Larry are just getting started and this will be very interesting to watch.

    • Oracle Man

      Java man,
      ‘the’ Google is the only company that has a chance of winning this open-source battle (remember Microsoft and Linux?) If you knew the difference between Java and a bucket of poop ‘Java Man’, you would have an opinion worthy of our eyes and ears.

      PS: Hope your ‘Java’ is better than your ‘English’.

  2. Good news for Android, Android has an exciting future ahead assuming they can get some of the app issues under control. Then it will come clearly to the top. Symbian has been loosing so much market its shocking.
    Having said this there Windows Phone(cough Mobile cough) coming to the market later this year we will have to see how that one takes the market.

  3. I saw a friend yesterday that I had not seen in 15 years. As we sat in his office, his cell phone rang and I noticed it was plugged in to a power source. He manages a well drilling company and all his workers use cell phones to stay in contact with the main office. After the call I asked him what kind of phone he used. He said he just got a new android phone. He then informed me it kept a charge for only a couple hours so he had to keep it plugged in. He then told me; “I wish I would have never got it, I need a phone that works”. I wonder if there will eventually be a backlash against increasingly complex phones which do many things with average success but do nothing well. I know my friend, a very successful business man, has no interest in a bells and whistles if all they do is make noise. He bought the phone based on the advertising hype and now has substantial regrets. What happened to meeting the core needs of most businesses in this country; a phone and carrier which do not drop calls, gives you battery life for a couple days, and provides truly useful core features which enhance the opportunity for success? I am truly suspicious of the current smartphone culture and its intense desire for more “features” and more money. The proposed Verizon/Google net agreement being a prime example.

  4. The power of Java cannot be denied. Even long before Android was created Java was used on BILLIONS of phones ! It is only fitting that Java dominates the SmartPhone as well.

  5. Kevin,

    Any idea on what iOS share would look like with iPod touch numbers included?

    Kudos to android for making such progress. Choice is good and we are better off today than a couple of years ago. While this benefits google, this doesn’t translate into success for all manufacturers. Will we be seeing an aggressive smartphone war amongs android producers in the same way we saw in feature phones where profits ultimately become cannibalized in order to differentiate?

    • They will launch WebOS tablet first, not sure if they even have a concrete plan for smartphone. And by the time they get around to making WebOS phone, it will be too late to catch iPhone and Andriod. Having said that, there’s plenty of space for everyone in the smartphone market.

  6. Jack Henry

    Android is the new Windows. It works on a large number of inexpensive devices, unlike iOS and Blackberry which basically have a single hardware solution. Why is this rising market share such a surprise to everyone?

  7. Hong Cho

    OT… When I followed the link from an RSS reader to read the article, I thought I was in a wrong site. Is the JKOnTheRun brand going to go away soon? I don’t know if I like the large GigaOm branding at the top. It makes this site look pretty generic, erasing the personal characters (yellow and orange FTW!) of James and Keven…

  8. You forgot to focus the title on “Android surpass iOS worldwide!” That is significant.

    But for some reason, you don’t tend to bash on Apple much.

    It worked last time you published one of these reports, you got even CNN saying the stat that is most favorable to Apple, the one comparing US sales for first 6 months of the year instead of in the latest 3 months.

    • RIM and Symbian can be considered more like slightly better than Feature Phones. While Android, Apple OS and Windows Mobile are the only true Smart phone OS of this comparison.

      The deal is Feature phones are being replaced by smart phones and Android has overtaken Apple OS in less than 6 months since the Nexus One showed the way.

    • “You forgot to focus the title on “Android surpass iOS worldwide!” That is significant. But for some reason, you don’t tend to bash on Apple much.”

      Couple of thoughts: the title you’re suggesting is a story that you can read anywhere on the web today. But most folks missed the buried news of Android overtaking BlackBerry in the U.S., so I chose to focus on that significant data point. I’ll make a deal with you: you can write what you want in the comments and I’ll keep writing my own headlines. :)

      And as far as Apple bashing: last I checked, my role isn’t to bash on any company or product — it’s to report on and analyze the industry. ;)

  9. What surprises me is how well Symbian is still doing even with little to no US presence and a fairly weak portfolio of phones while Nokia gears up for its next gen Symbian devices such as the N8 which will appear at the end of Q3/ start of Q4.

    I guess Apple, RIM and Symbian must be hoping that Google’s appeal will sour as on one side consumers find out about the net neutrality and privacy concerns and on the other side operators and manufactures start to worry about loss of control and changes to their ability to customize devices that android 3.0 brings.

    Whatever happens it’s going to be an interesting 18 month!

  10. There is an inherent problem with all these reports/statistics of Android outselling X – in most cases, the X (be it iPhone or Blackberry) are made by one company. It’s like saying that all other phones on the market, when aggregated, are outselling Blackberry. This is always going to be true when comparing one mfg against many. Its not a good comparison, and while its great that Android phones are doing so well, so are Blackberry phones made by RIM and iPhones made by Apple. At last report, there is still a waiting period to get an iPhone 4 – Apple can’t make them fast enough. A better comparison is the number of Droid X sold verson the iPhone (which is one model by one manufacturer).

    • Chris, there’s merit in that argument, but do you think RIM’s shareholders will be willing to explain the situation away with that logic? Or will devs ignore market share numbers when deciding which platforms to target apps? I don’t think so, in either case.

      The argument is far stronger when used in context with Google and Apple because RIM makes numerous handset models for the U.S. market on all four major carriers and even a few of the smaller MVNOs. So while I see your point from an end-user view, I don’t think a platform comparison between Android and RIM is completely flawed.

      • Kevin, actually Chris is correct.
        You can’t take all Android devices as a whole. Some are low end, some are high end and others are in the middle. The user experience on different android devices totally differs. Some include Google services, some don’t. An iPhone is an iPhone (with some very minor differences) and the end user knows what he gets.
        Same for the BlackBerry, BlackBerry services are provided on all BlackBerry. The user expererience is the same across devices (except for the new Torch and its new Browser).

        The Android OS is free and allows cheap inexperienced Asian companies to ship some so-called smartphones.

        A comparison of Motorola Droid devices vs. Samsung Captivate vs. iPhone devices vs. BlackBerry devices would be much more fair and would make much more sense.

      • John, I don’t see how you think that this comparison is not correct. All Android phones connect to the same market and run most of the same applications. You can run the game “Replica Island” for instance on every phone.

        Not only that, the original iPhone seriously lacks compared to the iPhone 4 (major differences). There are resolution differences, speed differences, etc.

        While I think that Verizon’s Droid line up is the best selling, I would imagine that the Android platform is the best way to compare.

        Do you actually have an Android phone? Or an iPhone which you think is exactly like the original (that can’t even do multitasking since it is “too old”).

    • @Chris

      Actually your argument is spurious. Every Android sale represents a lost opportunity for Apple so it’s absolutely appropriate to compare like with like – Android is a touch based OS, iOS is a touch based OS. That’s all you need to know.

      I’d also point out that Android handsets are outselling Apple’s in markets where there is choice of carrier.

      • Are all Android phones sold (in these sales and share numbers) touch smart phones?

        I don’t know, which is why I ask. It seems as if the likes of Motorola and others have basically abandoned their phone software development efforts and taken Google’s money and the Android code and are using that for their handsets. Are any of these Android OS phones on more mundane handsets than the big glass touch smart phones?

        Are the Symbian numbers for smart phones or for the more common feature phones in the world? How much of that space is at risk to Android (but not smart phones)?

    • John H.

      Funny how when the iPhone was outselling everything, people laughed at the competition and didn’t consider any other phone OS a threat to its market share. But now whenever I read Android outsells iPhone, you fanboys get all upset and pull out the multiple manufacturers defense. If the iPhone is so great, it shouldn’t make a difference. Should it?

    • That’s not a problem with the reports. When Android was announced, I predicted that in a short time, it would be everywhere – because it’s free-ish, and not tied to any one carrier or phone manufacturer. I also predicted that it would be a kind of sprawling mess, because it would end up on non-phone devices. I feel like my predictions were sound.

      Anyway, it’s not that I don’t agree with you. The only really comparable thing to Android would be Windows Mobile, and they’re out to lunch until this fall. That’s a long time to be essentially out of the market. The fact that Blackberry is losing ground has more to do with the success of Google’s services – Gmail, Docs, etc. – for small businesses, and the Google integration with Android devices. Blackberry still appeals to enterprise, but I hear that’s mostly because of their previous investment in Blackberry. Whereas small businesses have been going to Google services in droves. That’s, at least, my understanding of the issue.

    • Right… the graphic title indicates this is worldwide, not U.S. data. Gartner didn’t supply a U.S. chart, but says this in the linked press release:

      “In the smartphone operating system (OS) market, Android expanded rapidly in the second quarter of 2010, overtaking Apple’s iPhone OS to become the third-most-popular OS in the world (see Table 2). In the U.S, it also overtook RIM’s OS to become the No. 1 smartphone OS in this region.”

      Had Gartner supplied a chart of U.S. only data, I would have surely included it. Thanks!