Google Android barrels ahead of competitors

Manufacturers shipped 36.3 million Android-based devices in the first quarter of 2011, more than six times the 5.2 million Android devices shipped in the first quarter of 2010

Android has further consolidated its status as the leading global smartphone operating system, according to data released by both Gartner and the Millennial Media mobile ad network.

Gartner Research reported today that manufacturers shipped 36.3 million Android-based devices in the first quarter of 2011, more than six times the 5.2 million Android devices shipped in the first quarter of 2010. More significantly, Android has nearly quadrupled its share of the mobile device market, leaping from 9.6% of all devices shipped in Q1 2010 to 36% of all devices shipped in Q1 2011. What's more, Gartner says that the second quarter of 2011 could be another good one for Android device shipments as HTC, Sony Ericsson, Alcatel and ZTE are all planning "a broader portfolio of mid-tier devices, mainly based on Android" to be launched throughout the spring and early summer.

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Android's surge in the mobile OS market has come as Symbian, which has traditionally been the top mobile OS in the world, has seen its share of the market collapse from 44.2% in Q1 2010 to 27.4% in Q12011. Nokia announced earlier this year that it was discontinuing the use of Symbian and would instead put Windows Phone 7 on its devices going forward.

Gartner's data wasn't the only good news for Android released today, as the latest figures released by mobile advertising firm Millennial Media show that Android has surpassed Apple's iOS as the platform that generates the most advertising impressions on Millennial Media's network. Last month, Android phones accounted for 53% of all ad impressions on the network, versus 28% for Apple's iOS and 16% for Research in Motion's BlackBerry OS. Android and iOS were deadlocked atop Millennial Media's rankings as recently as last December, when each accounted for 38% of all impressions on the network.

However, Millennial Media also reported that the iPhone remained on top as far as generating the most revenue from mobile applications, as 50% of mobile app revenue last month came from iPhones while 39% of all mobile app revenue in April came from Android-based devices. And while Android may be the top overall operating system on the market right now, the iPhone remains far and away the most popular individual device, accounting for 20% of all advertising impressions on the network. Rounding out the top five overall devices are the BlackBerry Curve (5.3% of all impressions), the HTC Evo 4G (3.1%), the Samsung Nexus S (2.6%) and the Motorola Droid X (2.3%).

Android's rapid rise as a popular operating system has been one of the biggest stories of the mobile world in the last year. Since its debut in the fall of 2007, Android has appeared on numerous popular smartphones for several carriers including Verizon's Motorola Droid and Sprint's HTC Evo 4G. Google has also adapted its operating system to run on the tablet form factor and the company projects that it will unify the platform to work equally well on both tablets and smartphones by the end of the year.

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