Blackberry and Android have beaten iPhone into third place as US consumers' favourite mobile operating system, according to market analyst NPD Group.
NPD's wireless market research, which excludes sales to corporations, showed that Android phones took 28% of the smartphone market in Q1 2010. Blackberry maker RIM's OS took 36% and Apple's OS 21%.
"As in the past, carrier distribution and promotion have played a crucial role in determining smartphone market share," said Ross Rubin, NPD's executive director of industry analysis.
"To compete with the iPhone, Verizon Wireless has expanded its buy-one-get-one offer beyond RIM devices to now include all of their smartphones," he said.
Strong sales of the Droid, Droid Eris, and Blackberry Curve via these promotions helped keep Verizon Wireless on terms with AT&T, he said.
Rubin said smartphone sales at AT&T comprised nearly a third of the entire smartphone market (32%), followed by Verizon Wireless (30%), T-Mobile (17%) and Sprint (15%).
Reuters reported that Sprint is to stop selling the Android-based Nexus One phone because of competition from Google's website store.
"Recent previews of Blackberry 6, the recently announced acquisition of Palm by HP, and the pending release of Windows Phone 7 demonstrates the industry's willingness to make investments to address consumer demand for smartphones and other mobile devices," Rubin said. "Carriers continue to offer attractive pricing for devices, but will need to present other data plan options to attract more customers in future."
The continued popularity of messaging phones and smartphones resulted in slightly higher prices for all mobile phones, despite an overall drop in the number of mobile phones purchased in the first quarter, he said.
The average selling price for all mobile phones in Q1 was $88, 5% up from Q1 2009. Smartphone unit prices averaged $151 in Q1 2010, 3% down on Q1 2009.