In just one short year, Android's growth has exploded, helping to catapult it to the top of the smartphone OS market, a new study from Gartner has found.
According to the research firm, 46.8 million Android smartphones were sold to end users worldwide in the second quarter, helping the platform secure 43.4 percent of the market. Last year, Android sales hit 10.7 million, giving the platform 17.2 percent ownership of the market.
Last year, it was Symbian that dominated the smartphone space with 25.4 million unit sales and 40.9 percent share. But in just 12 months, that platform's market share has dropped to 22.1 percent on 23.9 million unit sales during the last quarter, Gartner found. Apple's iOS platform came in third with 18.2 percent market share on 19.6 million units sold.
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Gartner's smartphone market research follows similar findings from research firm Canalys. That company, which measured shipments and not sales, said that 51.9 million Android smartphones were shipped during the second quarter, helping the operating system nab 48 percent market share. Canalys said iOS secured 19 percent of the market on 20.3 million unit shipments.
Interestingly, Canalys' Apple shipments figure of 20.3 million matches up with the iPhone sales the company reported last quarter. Those sales, according to Apple, were tallied during the three-month period ended June 25. Gartner did not immediately respond to CNET's request on why its iPhone sales figure is slightly lower.
In Gartner's findings, Research In Motion's BlackBerry operating system saw its market share drop significantly from 18.7 percent last year to 11.7 percent this year.
However, perhaps the most surprising finding of last quarter was that Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 platform was beaten out by Samsung's Bada operating system. According to Gartner, over 2 million Bada-based smartphones were sold last quarter, earning the platform 1.9 percent market share. Windows Phone 7 followed with 1.7 million units sold, helping it to earn 1.6 percent of the market.
The last 12 months have been difficult for Microsoft. According to Gartner, the company's market share just one year ago was 4.9 percent on over 3 million unit sales.
So why did Android and iOS easily best the competition last quarter? Simple, Gartner says: "These two OSs have the usability that consumers enjoy, the apps that consumers feel they need, and increasingly a portfolio of services delivered by the platform owner, as well."
Mobile device sales
In addition, Gartner examined worldwide mobile device sales. And once again, Nokia won out, selling nearly 98 million handsets during the second quarter and securing 22.8 percent market share. However, that figure is off from last year's tally of 111 million unit sales and 30.3 percent share.
Samsung was a distant second, selling 69.8 million mobile phones last quarter, helping it to secure 16.3 percent market share. LG and Apple trailed behind with 24.4 million and 19.6 million worldwide handset sales, respectively. LG nabbed 5.7 percent of the worldwide market, while Apple scored 4.6 percent share. Last year, Apple owned just 2.4 percent of the space.
All told, the mobile phone market is growing quite rapidly. According to Gartner, 428.7 million handsets were sold worldwide last quarter, easily overshadowing the 368 million sold during the same period last year. Gartner reported that 107.7 million smartphones were sold in the second quarter, up from the 62 million sold in the second quarter of 2010.