Research firm Nielsen reports that 49.7% of US mobile phone subscribers owned smartphones at the end of February. In February of 2011, that number was just 36%. The leading operating systems vendors are Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG), Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL), and Research in Motion Ltd. (NASDAQ: RIMM).
According to Nielsen, Google’s Android claims 48% of the operating system market, compared with 32% for Apple and 12% for RIM. However, in the last three months, Apple has sold 43% of new phones and RIM’s share of sales for the same period is just 5%. Android’s share of new sales remains at 48%.
Nielsen also said that about two-thirds of all mobile phones sold in the US during the last three months were smartphones.
The big remaining questions are: 1) whether or not the Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK)/Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) smartphones can grab share and from which vendor; and 2) whether or not a low-priced smartphone (under $100) will drive feature phones out of the market altogether. Surely the wireless carriers would like to see smartphone adoption rise so they can sell their pricey data plans. As for Nokia/Microsoft, the answer to that question is still a few months away.