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Android Usage Increased 200% Over Past 3 Months

According to new data from ChangeWave Research, both usage and consumer sentiment towards Google’s mobile operating system Android has increased over the past several months. As of December 2009, the research firm’s survey shows that 4% of all smartphone owners now use a phone running some version of the Android OS. That’s an increase of 200% since the previous survey released in September.

Respondents were also asked about their plans to purchase a smartphone in the future. Among those who planned to purchase within the next 90 days, 21% said they would now choose Android. In September, that figure was only 6%. At that time, Android was tied with Palm as the least-preferred mobile operating system but by December’s survey, it became the second-most preferred. (Palm, sadly, has dropped to least-preferred).

Apparently, some of Android’s growth has come at the expense of the iPhone. While still the most popular mobile OS to date, those saying they would prefer to own the Apple device over any other smartphone dropped from 32% to 28% over the past three months (September – November 2009). However, Apple’s overall share of the market has increased one percentage point to 31%, notes the survey. Research in Motion (makers of Blackberry phones) retains a 39% share and Palm has slipped to a 6% share.

While this seems like promising news for Android, let’s not forget the recent figures regarding sales of the Nexus One, Google’s self-sold Android smartphone. Once positioned as a potential “iPhone killer,” the N1’s first week sales fell short of expectations with just 20,000 sold since its January 5th launch date. So while consumer sentiment may be on the rise regarding the Android OS, the mobile OS still has quite a ways to go before it catches up with the iPhone 3GS (which, incidentally, sold 1.6 million devices in its first week).

However, positioning the N1 against the iPhone isn’t really a valid comparison -the N1 is only one of many Android handsets on the market today. Other Android-enabled phones like the myTouch 3G and the Droid also have significant and growing install bases. Combined, the overall marketshare for Android is on the rise. This growth is benefitting both Motorola and HTC, each who offer a version of the Droid smartphone. (HTC is also the maker of the N1). Since September, Motorola has increased 12 percentage points in terms of future buying, the first increase ChangeWave Research has seen for the company in three years. HTC has also increased from 5% to 9% in the same time frame, a change prompted both by the N1 release and the November release of the Droid Eris model.

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