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Microsoft in Last Place for Mobile Sales; Google Android No. 1

Devices based on Google's Android were the highest-selling mobile devices in the first quarter of 2011, according to figures released by Gartner on Thursday.

Android devices own 36 percent of the market thanks to the more than 36 million units sold in Q1. This is a significant jump over Q1 2010, which had Android selling 5.2 million units for just 9.6 percent of the market.

As for Microsoft's mobile OS-compatible devices, the news isn't good: The company finished at the bottom of the Gartner list, after selling just under 3.7 million units in Q1 for 4.4 percent market share. This accounts for devices running both Windows Mobile 6.5 and Windows Phone 7.

"Windows Phone [7] saw only modest sales that reached 1.6 million units in the first quarter of 2011, as devices launched at the end of 2010 failed to grow in consumer preference and CSPs continued to focus on Android," Gartner wrote in a summary of its findings.

However, Gartner did predict that Nokia's support will help Microsoft's numbers. That's due to the fact that the Finnish device manufacturer led all hardware competitors with 25.1 percent of the market and 107.5 million devices sold in Q1 2011, despite falling by 5.5 percent year-over-year and dropping to its lowest market levels since 1997.

The first Nokia devices running Windows Phone 7 are rumored to hit the market later this year.

As for the other mobile OS platforms, despite dropping almost 17 percent over the same period last year, Symbian hung on to second place, with 27.6 million devices sold. Apple iOS gained more than a percentage point to end the quarter with 16.8 percent of the market and 16.9 million devices sold. Research In Motion, maker of the BlackBerry OS, stumbled in the beginning of 2011, dropping almost 7 percentage points to 12.9 percent market share and selling 13 million devices.

The overall market continues to grow, with the total worldwide numbers of communication devices totaling 427.8 million units, which accounts for an increase of 19 percent over Q1 2010. Gartner analysts speculated that the numbers would have been higher if it were not for some "high-profile" announcements of upcoming devices coming in the second half of this year.

Gartner also speculated that those platforms that support a robust developer network and feature a high variety of applications will continue to see growth. "Every time a user downloads a native app to their smartphone or puts their data into a platform's cloud service, they are committing to a particular ecosystem and reducing the chances of switching to a new platform," said Roberta Cozza, principal research analyst at Gartner. "This is a clear advantage for the current stronger ecosystem owners Apple and Google."

Gartner's sales figures for each OS platform are shown below:

Mobile OS

Q1 2011 Units Sold (Thousands of Units)

Q1 2011 Market Share (%)

Loss/Gain over 2010 (%)

Android

36,267.8

36.0

+ 26.4

Symbian

27,598.5

27.4

- 16.8

Apple iOS

16,883.2

16.8

+ 1.5

RIM BlackBerry

13,004.0

12.9

- 6.8

Microsoft

3,658.7

3.6

- 3.2

Other

3,357.2

3.3

- 1.1

Source: Gartner

About the Author

Chris Paoli (@ChrisPaoli5) is the associate editor for Converge360.

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