Shocker: U.S. Android Sales Surpass BlackBerry

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 operating system, according to data released by Gartner today. Not only did Android handsets outsell the iPhone, but they also outsold RIM’s 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 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

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