Google’s mobile phone operating system, Android, is now installed on more phones than iPhone for the first time, according to new research.
The iPhone shook up the mobile phone industry when it was first introduced in 2007 and more than 50 million devices have since been sold.
Instead of having a screen with a separate keyboard, Apple introduced a mobile with one giant touchscreen. It was also the first to feature multitouch and a dedicated application store, with millions of games and tools.
Google, fearing they would be squeezed out of the mobile internet market, responded with their own software platform called Android.
The operating system controls the mobile device and works in a similar way to a system like Windows on a desktop computer.
The Android software is open-source, which means any manufacturer can use it when developing their mobile phones.
It has been adopted by a number of phone manufacturers including Motorola, HTC, Samsung, Vodafone and Sony Ericcson. Google also sells its own smartphone, the Nexus One. There are 34 different devices that feature the Android software.
Google also offers several applications of its services in the Android Market. These include Google Maps, Google Translate and Google Voice.
Now market research by the NPD group has revealed Android-powered mobiles are the second most popular category of smartphones in the U.S after Blackberry, according to market research by the NPD group.
They received 28 per cent of consumer sales in the first three months of this year, compared with 21 per cent for the iPhone.
Canada's Research in Motion, maker of the ever popular Blackberry, retained the top spot with 36 percent of sales.
Strong sales of Motorola's Android-powered Droid and HTC's Android-based Droid Eris were cited as among the reasons for Android's surge past Apple.
However, Apple is likely to pull ahead again with the expected launch of the Apple 4G iPhone at the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco next month.
The NPD findings are based on the results of online consumer research surveys conducted each month. The sales figures do not include corporate or enterprise mobile phone sales.
'As in the past, carrier distribution and promotion have played a crucial role in determining smartphone market share,' said Ross Rubin, NPD's executive director of industry analysis.
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