43 percent of recent (July - December 2010) acquirers of smartphones in the United States opted for a device using Google's Android operating system, giving it a clear lead over Apple's revolutionary iOS (26 percent) and smartphone pioneers Blackberry RIM (20 percent). This was revealed in a study on smartphone penetration and mobile operating system marketshare in the U.S. by global market research firm Nielsen.

The competition for the alternative systems is, however, much closer when it comes to the existing or installed base of smartphone users, where there is almost a three-way tie between the three players, converging roughly at 27 percent share of market.

Here, too, Android's rise has been dramatic - the platform witnessed a rise in market share from 2 percent to 27 percent between October 2009 and December 2010. RIM saw a drop in share over the same period from 38 percent to 28 percent while iPhone maintained a more or less steady share.

However, in another finding of the Nielsen study, which many would support intuitively, Apple remains the clear and firm favorite among U.S. smartphone owners who are Asians/Pacific Islanders, with 36 percent among them owning iPhones.

Incidentally smartphone penetration was also found to be highest among the ethnic and racial minorities, the most prominent being Asians/Pacific Islanders and Hispanics (45 percent each). In comparison, only 27 percent of white American mobile users reported owning a smartphone.