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Another day, another new insight into the shifting and lucrative smartphone market. And no matter how you slice it, it's all good news for Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) .
This week, a Nielsen survey revealed that for all smartphones purchased in the first two quarters of 2010, those based on Google's Android operating system outsold Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) devices for the first time in Nielsen's survey.
Let's look at another survey, released yesterday by market researcher NPD Group. This one is headlined "Motorola (NYSE: MOT ) , HTC drive Android to Smartphone OS lead in the U.S." However, the survey: (1) is only for second-quarter purchases, and thus (2) only covers six days of Apple's iPhone 4 sales, and (3) only accounts for U.S. consumer purchases and "does not track corporate/enterprise mobile phone purchases."
With that out of the way, the survey shows 33% of consumer purchases in the quarter were for Android devices, followed by Research In Motion's (Nasdaq: RIMM ) BlackBerry OS at 28% and Apple at 22%. It's the first time since the fourth quarter of 2007 that RIM is not on top.
NPD also says Verizon's (NYSE: VZ ) Wireless unit held onto the carrier lead with 33% of all units sold. AT&T (NYSE: T ) , Sprint (NYSE: S ) , and T-Mobile followed behind, with 25%, 12%, and 11%, respectively.
How Google wins
It's no surprise at all to see Android pass RIM and Apple in sales. It is, after all, part of the Open Handset Alliance and thus designed to be used by a large number of handset makers. The iPhone and BlackBerry operating systems run only on their respective devices. Still, the Android growth rate is exciting to witness, and it's accelerating daily.
On its conference call about three weeks ago, management reiterated it was seeing 160,000 devices were being activated daily, or about two every seconds. Yesterday, Google CEO Eric Schmidt told TechCrunch that number is up to 200,000 per day.
Google makes nothing, directly, on each Android device purchased. It's definitely thrilled to see the ecosystem growing, however, because it makes money on all the searches performed by mobile users (though hopefully not while driving). In fact, Schmidt is just as happy to see iPhone sales surging, he says, because that also drives more Google searches -- and thus more ad revenue for his company.
Following that logic, Schmidt is even pulling for the new BlackBerry Torch to be a smash hit. Introduced yesterday, the Torch's web browser is based on the same WebKit engine that powers the iPhone and Android-based devices -- and will drive even more mobile searches.
Yes, these days, any smartphone sale is a win for Google.