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Android growth prior to iPhone 5 launch further established market dominance

Smartphones running Android saw double-digit marketshare gains in the third quarter as Apple’s iOS lost substantial ground, leading one analyst to question whether Google's OS could be in a position to take over the entire market.

Galaxy S III

In a note to investors on Monday, Charlie Wolf of Needham & Co. said that Android’s market share rose to 72.4 percent in September, up from 64.1 percent quarter-to-quarter, while Apple saw its share slip to 13.9 percent from 18.8 percent over the same period.

Wolf was quick to point out that Apple's numbers were likely impacted by hesitant consumers who put off new iPhone purchases ahead of the iPhone 5‘s September release. However with Android now accounting for almost three-fourths of the market, the analyst speculated that the smartphone industry may soon become a one-horse race.

“As we have discussed in previous reports, we think a ‘winner-take-all’ outcome is possible, but highly unlikely,” wrote Wolf, who last week said that the launch of Google Maps on the iPhone was a “mixed blessing” for Apple.

Struggling smartphone maker RIM saw BlackBerry market share rise from 5.2 percent to 5.3 percent, but that figure was still less than half of the company’s 11 percent stake a year ago. Microsoft's Windows Phone share decreased from 2.7 percent to 2.4 percent as consumers held out for the October release of Windows Phone 8.

As for the hardware market, Wolf said Samsung was the clear winner after taking a a 32.4 percent share on shipments of 54.1 million units, a 129 percent year-over-year increase from 23.6 million units in the third quarter of 2011.