3 Winners, 1 Loser in the Mobile War (Hint: Apple Didn't Make the List)

New data from comScore is out, and unsurprisingly, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) added to its share of the U.S. smartphone market in February. The Big G now serves 33% of U.S. smartphone subscribers, up from 26% in November.

Of course, Google wasn't the only winner. Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) also enjoyed gains, though you wouldn't know it from looking at comScore's data:

Smartphone Platform

November 2010

February 2011


Google 26.0% 33.0% 7.0
Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM  ) 33.5% 28.9% (4.6)
Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) 25.0% 25.2% 0.2
Microsoft 9.0% 7.7% (1.3)
Palm 3.9% 2.8% (1.1)

Source: Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's.

Why single out Mr. Softy and Big Red? Microsoft gets a nod for winning the hearts and minds of developers. In a blog post, the company said that 36,000 coders had registered as Windows Phone 7 developers while its kit for creating mobile software had been downloaded 1.5 million times.

Both numbers are impressive given the relative youth of Windows Phone 7 as a platform, and they may be influenced by Nokia's (NYSE: NOK  ) commitment to offer Windows handsets to its customers.

Verizon, meanwhile, deserves kudos for keeping Apple from losing more ground in the war for platform market share. The new iPhone was the "most acquired" handset in February, comScore reports. Apple handsets now serve 7.5% of U.S. mobile subscribers.

On the other hand, there's no sugarcoating Research In Motion's result. The BlackBerry OS lost 4.6 percentage points of smartphone share in February, while RIM's total handset share fell from 8.8% to 8.6% over the same period. Only Motorola Mobility (NYSE: MMI  ) lost more, which could explain a persistent rumor that the company is creating its own OS.

So it's Android on the march, while Mr. Softy marshals developers for its own assault on the market. Apple's defenses should hold so long as the iEmpire doesn't delay the release of the next iPhone for too long, but RIM, I fear, is only delaying the inevitable.

Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think about the mobile war, Microsoft's strategy, and the rise of Android using the comments box below.

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Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He owned shares of Apple and Google at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Google, and Microsoft and has written Apple puts. The Fool is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. Its disclosure policy is so WINNING.

Read/Post Comments (7) | Recommend This Article (4)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On April 03, 2011, at 9:37 AM, etgh wrote:

    The comments regarding the demise of RIM might be valid if they weren't making so some much money. They continue to post record earnings and handset sales. They are even universally recognized as the de-facto winner in the Nokia platform debacle. On paper, the Playbook is set to give the iPad a run for its money.

    Folks need to understand that the market share pie is still growing very fast and that companies can still increase revenues while reducing overall sales percentages.

    Another flaw in this article is that is only reflects US numbers and the rest of the world has a very different view of smart phones.

  • Report this Comment On April 03, 2011, at 9:56 AM, pk22901 wrote:

    This is about the smartphone 'platform'

    Apple's platform is iOS, the one that runs iPhone, touch and iPad.

    What's the mktshare number when you add those devices to the chart?

    I'd guestimate that Apple moves to 40% placing it 1st. With iPad owning tablets this year, that's where your story ought to be.

  • Report this Comment On April 03, 2011, at 9:59 AM, xmmj wrote:

    Apple still makes the most profit in the mobile business. Period.

  • Report this Comment On April 03, 2011, at 10:31 AM, techy46 wrote:

    IBM PC released in 1981. Apple smart phone released in 2007. I wonder what the smart phone will be like in 3, 5, 7 or 10 years? I'll bet it does a lot more than now and costs a lot less. We're at 32 or 40nm depending on who's side you're on and 22, 15 and 7nm are being discuss. At 22 or 15nm there'll be nothing but SoC (systems on chip) with no peripheral chips with 2, 4 or xCores. It's going to take billions of free cash flow to invest and stay in the hunt. Happy hunting.

  • Report this Comment On April 03, 2011, at 1:54 PM, TMFMileHigh wrote:


    >>The US market is nothing, a drop in the bucket, compared to the overseas market, and RIM is blowing away Apple 1000 to 1 over there.

    (Ding!) Empty claim. Data please.

    Thanks for the comment and Foolish best,

    Tim (TMFMileHigh and @milehighfool on Twitter)

  • Report this Comment On April 03, 2011, at 1:59 PM, TMFMileHigh wrote:


    >>I read the reports this weekend and no where have I read MMI lost ground ... Please show me differently.


    MMI subscriber share fell 0.9 percentage points, from 17% in November to 16.1% in February.

    Foolish best,

    Tim (TMFMileHigh and @milehighfool on Twitter)

  • Report this Comment On April 19, 2011, at 10:45 AM, fraze8888 wrote:

    Pretty soon all companies will have a huge app store, and then it will be a competition on who has the best OS and who can supply the best hardware at the lowest cost. I think rim is moving in the right direction -- playing to their current business customers and adding consumers. Their new OS looks far superior to google or apple and when it gets caught up on software (apps) which is it will be large. By the way I own an iphone but buying a playbook. Hate that center control button.

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