50% of New Smartphones are Android

Google’s Android operating system powered half of all smartphones bought in the U.S. in the past six months, according to a survey by Nielsen Inc., a sign the software’s market share continues to grow.

Android’s share of new smartphone purchases was double that for Apple Inc. Apple’s iPhone is at 25 percent, the research firm said in a report today, based on a survey in March about devices bought during the previous half year. RIM’s BlackBerry had 15 percent, Nielsen said.

Android’s share of the smartphone market has grown as more handset makers including Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. use the free Google software. Rising sales will help it to account for half of the total smartphone market in 2012 as Motorola, Samsung and others push into emerging markets with customers looking for cheaper alternatives to the iPhone, Gartner Inc. said this month.

The Nielsen survey in March found that 31 percent of consumers looking to buy a new smartphone planned to buy an Android device, up from 26 percent in a 2010 survey. Apple accounted for 30 percent of planned purchases, down from 33 percent in 2010. RIM’s share dropped to 11 percent on intended purchases from 13 percent last year.

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