Who’s winning the smartphone race?

March 3, 2011, 6:12 PM UTC

A new study suggests that it’s the manufacturers that build their own OS

Click to enlarge. Source: The Neisen Co.

Viewed by operating system, Google’s (AAPL) Android appears to be pulling ahead in the U.S. smartphone race, with a 29% share of sales over the past two months compared with Research in Motion’s (RIMM) BlackBerry and Apple’s (AAPL) iOS — neck and neck with 27% each.

But a Nielsen report issued Thursday suggests that from the manufacturers’ point of view, the race looks very different:

“An analysis by manufacturer shows RIM and Apple to be the winners compared to other device makers since they are the only ones creating and selling smartphones with their respective operating systems.”

Asymco‘s Horace Dediu points out that not only are RIM and Apple’s volumes higher, as Nielsen’s chart indicates, but so are their margins and profit share.

Also on Fortune.com:

[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]