Android grows faster than iPhone, RIM slips as smartphone wars continue

Research in Motion may have the largest share of the smartphone market in the U.S but the real smartphone battle to watch is featuring Apple and Google. to watch is the battle in on two others - Apple and Google.

The latest Comscore numbers on smartphone market share are in for the quarter ending October 31 - the first full quarter since the iPhone 4 hit the market - and Google and Apple were the only two to report growth. The other big players in this space - RIM, Microsoft and Palm - all lost market share.

As those three “other” players continue to work on reinventing themselves to keep up with the bar that Apple raised, Google, with its Android devices, is the only player that’s been able to challenge Apple’s sudden rise in dominance. In fact, the most recent numbers suggest that Google is not only growing faster than Apple and the others but is also gearing up to leapfrog over Apple’s No. 2 spot.

During the quarter, Google saw its smartphone market share grow by 6.5 percent, compared to Apple’s growth of 0.8 percent, and that’s left the two pretty much neck-and-neck in the race to overtake RIM. Google’s 23.5 percent share is a mere 1.1 percent behind Apple’s 24.6 percent share.

RIM’s share slipped by 3.5 percentage points, tumbling from 39.3 percent to 35.8 percent during the quarter.

Here’s the other thing to remember: iPhone saw its growth with just one carrier as a partner; Android’s was the result of partnerships across multiple carriers. If Apple starts offering the iPhone on the Verizon network, what sort of market share shift will that create?

On the other hand, that’s one of those “what-if” questions that’s probably not even worth asking anymore. For longer than I care to think about, there’s been rumor and speculation about an iPhone for Verizon. As we head into a new year, the rumors and speculations continue, with no new news about when and if that product will ever surface.

Until Apple goes multi-carrier in the U.S., the only real projection that can be made from this most recent set of data is that Android will continue to grow faster than iPhone, presumably taking the No. 2 spot from Apple by the end of the quarter.

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