BlackBerry era coming to a close?

BlackBerry is losing out to Android in the smartphone market, slowly but surely.

BlackBerry – a smartphone line made by RIM – is losing out to its competitors, including phones powered by Google's Android OS.

BlackBerry – a cellphone line manufactured by Research in Motion – remains as the top smartphone among Americans.

But a new paper released by comScore shows that BlackBerry is gradually losing its hold on the smartphone market, both to Apple, the maker of the iPhone, and to phones powered by Google's ascendant Android OS.

According to comScore, between the months of April and July of 2010, RIM saw its market share decline from 41.1 percent to 39.3 percent. On its own, not a particularly ominous figure.

But consider this: Android climbed five full percentage points during that same period of time, from 12 to 17 percent. And consider also that RIM has seen its cachet drop (the BlackBerry Torch, anyone?), while Android has seen its cachet soar.

Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google, has said that 200,000 new Android devices are sold every day. "People are finally beginning to figure out how successful Android is," Mr. Schmidt announced this summer. "The number was about 100,000 (a day) about two months ago. It looks like Android is not just phenomenal but incredibly phenomenal in its growth rate. God knows how long that will continue."

Well, probably for a while.

The NPD Group recently announced that Android currently accounts for 33 percent of all smartphones purchased by American consumers. (By comparison, RIM phones accounted for 28 percent and Apple 22 percent of all smartphone handsets sold in the US.) And many analysts expect that in coming years, Android-powered handsets will come to dominate the market.

"It's a matter of Android really going more into the hands of the mainstream user," Gartner's Roberta Cozza said. "The iPhone will remain focused toward the higher end of the market, while through the end of this year and into 2011, all that growth you see in Android will come from the fact that most of the vendors who are backing it will release cheaper smartphones."

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