By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
March 29, 2012

Between December and February, Android captured 48% and iOS 43% of the U.S. market

The thrust of the Nielsen report issued Thursday morning is that nearly half (49.7%) of U.S mobile phone owners now carry smartphones.

But what interests me, as usual, is how that market is being divvied up among Google (GOOG) Android phones, Apple’s (AAPL) iPhones, Research in Motion’s (RIMM) BlackBerries and the diminishing Others.

The chart at right tells the story. Android still holds the 48% it captured in 2011, but among Americans who bought smartphones in December, January and February, Apple’s share grew sharply.

Nielsen summarized its findings as follows: (I quote)

  • Smartphone penetration has increased significantly over the last year, from only 36% a year earlier in February 2011
  • Android leads the smartphone market with 48% of smartphone owners, and Apple has a 32% share of US smartphones
  • Of those who recently acquired a smartphone, 48% chose an Android handset and 43% bought an iPhone

Below: Nielsen’s chart of tracking the rise of the smartphone.

Source: Nielsen

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