Android continued its triumphant march forward during the third quarter of 2010 by capturing an impressive 44 percent of US consumer smartphone sales.
As expected, Android's significant gains (11% since Q2) came at the expense of RIM and its corporate-oriented BlackBerry handset.
"Apple, Google and RIM have traded barbs over activations, apps, openness and other contentious topics; however, it's all been more about positioning than prospering up to this point," said senior NPD exec Ross Rubin.
"The reality in the US has been that all these companies have enjoyed the fruits of a booming smartphone market. All platforms have been able to expand by selling feature phones buyers on the benefits of their platforms."
Nevertheless, Rubin cautioned that such a favorable situation was quite unlikely to last forever.
"The handset market [has already] reached a key milestone, with smartphones [achieving] parity with feature phones [and] accounting for 50 percent of all handset sales in the US. [To be sure], smartphones ended the quarter with 46 percent of sales, up from only 28 percent last year.
"[Meanwhile], Windows Phone 7 and webOS are relaunching. [Yes], the remarkable rise of Android shows how quickly fortunes can change, but the game is well underway."
According to Rubin, the "real" ground campaign between vendors will heat up as the industry experiences greater smartphone saturation.
"OS vendors will then be in a similar position to mobile carriers - stealing share from each other and scrambling to drive new sources of revenue from existing customers.
"[And] over time, smartphones will likely encroach on more advanced-input handsets, relegating the feature phone to those who have only the most basic voice and texting needs."