Android Gains Ground on the iPhone

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Two new reports are shedding light on Android’s rapid takeover of the smart phone market.

The latest monthly report from Quantcast shows Google's (Stock Quote: GOOG) Android operating system continuing to grab a larger share of mobile web consumption, with phones running Android now accounting for 25% of the market. While iOS, the iPhone’s operating system, still accounts for 56% of mobile web consumption, that’s a drop of more than 11% in the past year. Android’s share has skyrocketed nearly 19% in the same period, contributing to an emerging picture of two operating systems going in opposite directions.

Meanwhile, a report from global investment firm Piper Jaffray is predicting that Google will eventually control more than half of the smart phone market. According to the report, Android and Apple (Stock Quote: AAPL) will likely be neck-and-neck by the end of the year, but Android is expected to pull ahead in subsequent years as Apple levels out.

“We believe the question is where the two platforms top out in terms of market share,” the report notes, pointing to Android’s multiple partners.

A number of factors could impede the march of the Android army, however. The impending release of the Windows Phone 7 operating system could make Microsoft (Stock Quote: MSFT) a player, and the Piper Jaffray report acknowledges the possibility that Nokia (Stock Quote: NOK) and Research in Motion (Stock Quote: RIMM) could opt for the Windows platform over Android. Meanwhile, if rumors of Apple opening up the iPhone to Verizon ever come true, it could attract a lot of buyers currently turned off by the phone’s exclusivity to AT&T.

With Google, Microsoft and Apple all seeking to seize control of the market – and putting their considerable resources behind their respective offerings – there’s no telling who will eventually come out on top.

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