Apple pulls just ahead of Google in U.S. smartphones

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Apple blew away observers and analysts on Tuesday with record earnings that included 37 million iPhone sold, which helps explain why research firm Kantar Worldpanel ComTech said Wednesday that Apple’s U.S. smartphone market share now exceeds that of Android devices.

Demand for the iPhone 4S helped Apple’s U.S. share of the smartphone market climb to 44.9 percent in the last quarter of 2011, Kantar said, doubling from the same period a year ago and gaining a very slight edge over Google’s platform. Android slipped to 44.8 percent from 50 percent during the quarter.

Apple’s success isn’t isolated to the U.S., either. Dominic Sunnebo, Kantar’s global consumer insight director told Reuters, “overall, Apple sales are now growing faster than Android across the nine countries we cover,” which include the U.S., U.K., Australia, Brazil and Mexico, among others.

Other research firms have recently released data suggesting that iOS was rapidly closing the distance with its Android smartphone rivals. The NPD Group and Nielsen  both released their own studies earlier this month that showed iOS trailing Android slightly in the U.S. smartphone race, but Kantar’s is the first to put Apple on top.

In the U.K., Apple grew its share from 34 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011, compared to 22 percent for the same period in 2010. And while Apple grew most quickly in the countries covered, Kantar is quick to point out smartphones are experiencing strong growth in all the areas tested, meaning while Android may have dropped market share in some locations, that doesn’t necessarily translate to a drop in sales.

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