Google beats Microsoft in smartphones: Gartner

PARIS (Reuters) - Google Inc’s Android took fourth place in the first quarter in the number of smartphones sold which use it, research showed on Wednesday, showing the increasing success of the search group’s push into cellphones.

A T-Mobile G1 Google phone running Android is shown photographed in Encinitas, California, January 20, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Android overtook Microsoft Corp’s Windows Mobile, the data from research firm Gartner showed, leaving Google well placed amid the increasing popularity of mobile browsing as handsets look set to soon surpass computers for accessing the web.

The Android operating system, which was in 10 percent of smartphones sold in the quarter, still lags Nokia Oyj’s Symbian as well as products from Research in Motion Ltd and Apple Inc.

Gartner said Android beat Apple in the North American market in the first quarter and would catch the iPhone maker globally soon.

“You have one vendor with one model and eight to nine vendors with many models -- of course you get bigger volumes,” said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner.

All top handset vendors except Nokia have either launched or are planning to unveil smartphone models running on the Android operating system.

The growth of Android -- whose features include easier access to Google services -- helped smartphone sales jump 49 percent in the January-March quarter, Gartner said.

The global cellphone market grew 17 percent year-on-year in the quarter, its fastest pace in four years, as demand started to recover following last year’s recession.

Market leader Nokia saw its share slip to 35 percent in the three months, while closest rival Samsung raised its market share to 20.6 percent, Gartner said.

Milanesi said Gartner raised its view for global phone market growth in 2010 to around 14 percent from a previous 11 percent.

Editing by Dan Lalor and David Holmes