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Android OS pulls ahead of Apple in smartphone market

It's not a stunning surprise, but the Android OS has knocked Apple out of the number 2 slot and slid just behind RIM.

Market Researcher NPD says first quarter sales give RIM (Blackberry) 36% of OS sales. Android has 28% while Apple has 21%.

These percentages are only smartphone numbers and do not include the iPod touch.

NPD says that the Droid, Droid Eris and Blackberry Curve are flying off the shelves, largely because of a 2-for-1 sale at Verizon. At the same time, customers are hesitant to buy iPhones with a new model rumored to be available soon.

The NPD Group compiles and analyzes mobile device sales data based on more than 150,000 completed online consumer research surveys each month. Surveys are based on a nationally-balanced and demographically-representative sample, and results are projected to represent the entire population of US consumers. Note: Sales figures do not include corporate/enterprise mobile phone sales.

This is a good wake-up call for Apple, and things may change when the new iPhone with OS 4.0 ships, most likely in June. Apple shouldn't get too comfortable, as HP may be doing some interesting things with Palm, and later this year the Windows Phone 7 will arrive with a highly-motivated Microsoft behind it.

Ultimately, competition is good for everyone, and iPhone owners can expect to see better phones and features as Apple continues to see it does not have the smartphone market to itself. It might also help Apple in any pending antitrust case.