Nielsen: Android Surges to No. 1 in Recent Sales

Nielsen is adding its voice to the chorus of research firms confirming the ascension of Android (s goog). Nielsen said among recent acquirers of smartphones in the last six months through August, Android was the top platform in the U.S., with 32 percent of new purchases, followed by the iPhone (s aapl) and Research In Motion’s (s rimm) BlackBerry platform, tied at about 25 percent.

When looking at overall market share, RIM remains on top with 31 percent, trailed by the iPhone at 28 percent and Android at 19 percent. But the race continues to tighten with RIM maintaining a slide from 37 percent in February. The iPhone has remained largely stable during that period, while Android market share is up from 8 percent in February.

The recent purchase numbers from August put Android’s momentum into better context. We can see that even with the boost from the iPhone 4, Apple smartphones are still getting outsold by a flock of Android devices. RIM’s slide is even more pronounced in these numbers as well, plummeting from 35 percent to 25 percent from June to August.

The Nielsen figures are generally consistent with other data from NPD and ComScore. During the second quarter, NPD reported that Android phones represented 33 percent of new smartphone purchases, compared to 28 percent for BlackBerry and 22 percent for Apple’s iPhone. ComScore said RIM’s overall market share remained at 39.3 percent in July, ahead of iPhone (23.8 percent) and Android (18 percent).

It’s hard to see how the Android momentum will subside. New survey data from Changewave shows that interest among people who will buy a smartphone in the next three months has grown from 30 percent in June to 37 percent in September, basically equal with the iPhone, now at 38 percent, down from 50 percent in June.

With Verizon Wireless (s vz) hinting that an iPhone launch is not imminent, it only makes Android an even more attractive option. If people had any hope that the iPhone would break free of AT&T (s t), we might at least see some cooling Android interest. But if Android is the best non-iPhone game in town and it’s available on every carrier, it seems to have no lack of interest from consumers.

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