Android tops iPhone sales in the US

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Sales of smartphones running Google's Android mobile operating system have topped those of the Apple iPhone, according to stats from analyst firm NPD Group.

While BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion still holds a tight grip on the top spot with 36 per cent of market share, Android snuck into second place with 28 per cent. Apple's iPhone held 21 per cent of consumer sales share for the first quarter of the year in the US.

The results are somewhat contradicted by a report last week from IDC, which claimed that globally the iPhone was still outselling Android phones. While that report showed Apple's 16 per cent market share was third to Nokia and RIM, it was still well ahead of manufacturers like HTC and Motorola, which make Android handsets.

NPD suggested Apple's sales route could be playing a part in its US struggle. "As in the past, carrier distribution and promotion have played a crucial role in determining smartphone market share," said Ross Rubin, executive director of industry analysis for NPD, in a statement.

"In order to compete with the iPhone, Verizon Wireless has expanded its buy-one-get-one offer beyond RIM devices to now include all of their smartphones," he said.

Of course, Google's Android is found on multiple handsets, including the Motorola Droid - known as the Milestone here in the UK - while Apple only has the iPhone on offer, which it is expected to be updated this summer.

NPD also noted that smartphone prices dropped about three per cent this year, to an average price of $151 for the first quarter of this year.