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Android-based smartphone shipments leapfrog Apple's iPhone

Shipments of smartphones running Google's Android operating system outpaced iPhones for the first time during the second quarter of the year, as sales of all integrated mobile devices worldwide rose more than 50% to 61.6 million units.

The boost was enough to push Android past Apple's iOS to become the third-most-popular mobile phone OS in the world during that same three-month period ended June, shipping on over 10.6 million devices to garner a 17.2% share of the smartphone market, according to Gartner. That represents a more than 850% rise for Android, which held just 1.8% market share during the year-ago quarter.

"A non-exclusive strategy that produces products selling across many communication service providers, and the backing of so many device manufacturers, which are bringing more attractive devices to market at several different price points, were among the factors that yielded its growth this quarter," said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner.

The iOS slipped one spot into 4th place, shipping on 8.74 million devices for a 14.2% share of the smartphone market, representing growth of just over 9%. However, since Android devices span several manufacturers, Apple was able to maintain its seats as the No. 3 smartphone maker and the No. 7 (2.7%) mobile device maker worldwide.

"Apple's sales would have been higher if it had not had to face tight inventory management in preparation for the arrival of the iPhone 4 at the end of the second quarter of 2010," Gartner wrote in its report. "Apple also suffered from some supply constraint on the new device. We expect that a wider global rollout of iPhone 4 will sustain Apple's sales momentum throughout the second half of 2010."

For its part during the second quarter, Nokia remained king of all mobile device sales to end users with shipments reaching 111.5 million units for a share of 34.2%. Gartner said that the handset maker's economies of sales and excellent distribution enabled it to hold onto the top spot but warned that "good quality, well-priced products were not enough to maintain Nokia's leadership in the high-end sector."

Worldwide Mobile Device Sales to End Users in 2Q10 (Thousands of Units)

Despite remaining No. 1, Nokia lost 2.6 percentage points year-on-year, promting Gartner to call on the company's senior executives to do more "to attract developers and other ecosystem members by revising its platform strategy and improving its communications."

Meanwhile, sales of Research In Motion's smartphones to end users reached 11.2 million units, asserting the BlackBerry maker's position as the fourth largest brand with a share of 3.4% during the quarter.

Worldwide Smartphone Sales to End Users by Operating System in 2Q10 (Thousands of Units)

New devices running BlackBerry OS 6.0, like the company's first touchscreen qwerty slider phone dubbed the Torch, are expected to hit the market during the third quarter of 2010. However Gartner believes the Torch's form factor will still appeal more to business users than to consumers, stopping many loyal BlackBerry users from defecting to other platforms, but not attracting many new users to the brand either.

Overall, worldwide mobile device sales to end users totaled 325.6 million units in the second quarter, a 13.8% increase from the same period a year ago. Smartphone sales to end users accounted for 19% of worldwide mobile device sales, an increase of 50.5%.