NPD: Android OS Passes iPhones OS for U.S. Market Share

Google’s Android smartphone operating system has passed Apple’s iPhone OS to become the number two smartphone OS in the U.S. market, according to research firm NPD. The company announced Monday that in the first quarter of 2010, Research In Motion (RIM) had 36% of the U.S. smartphone market for the top slot, Android OS had 28% for number two, and that iPhone OS was the number three OS in the U.S. with 21% of the market.

NPD’s breakdown was by OS, and not manufacturer, meaning that all of the vendors manufacturing Android OS devices were lumped together. iPhone OS and BlackBerry devices are each manufactured by only one company (Apple and RIM, respectively). This metric is just as important when judging the health and direction of an overall platform as individual vendor sales are for judging the performance of those companies.

NPD pointed out that Verizon has increased its sales of smartphones by offering a buy-one-get-one-free promotion for all of its smartphones, including Android OS devices made by Motorola, HTC, and others.

“As in the past, carrier distribution and promotion have played a crucial role in determining smartphone market share,” Ross Rubin, executive director of industry analysis for NPD, said 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.”

Each of those free devices counts towards overall market share of the OS that powers them just as much as the paid for device.

NPD’s numbers add color to global market share numbers for Q1 2010 released last week by competing research firm IDC. According to that company, Apple was the #3 manufacturer of smartphones with 16.1% of the global smartphone market. I the global market Nokia still reigns supreme, with RIM occupying the number two slot.