Elance Blog

iOS Pushes Past Blackberry OS in the U.S.; Android Hot on Heels

It’s official—Apple’s iOS has nudged percentage points ahead of longtime leader RIM Blackberry OS to give it the largest total U.S. market share for smartphone operating systems, according to a release issued by analysis service The Nielsen Company. The news, which comes from October data, shows iOS with a 27.9% share, slightly more than Blackberry OS, which continues its steady free fall at 27.4%.

Most pundits predicted Apple would overtake RIM eventually, so the most interesting piece of data might be that Google’s Android OS checks in with nearly 23% of the overall U.S. market, the latest impressive number in what has been a meteoric rise in 2010 for the relatively new kid on the block. According to Nielsen data, Android began the year with a modest 8% share, while iOS stood at 28% and Blackberry OS led with a comfortable 35%. Since then, iOS has remained steady but Blackberry OS has trended downward each month, with Android gobbling up the lost shares.

Android’s rapid climb mirrors the findings in our recent Q3 2010 Online Employment Report, which saw Android-related jobs jump an incredible 26 spots to number 49 in its Overall Skills in Demand listing. iOS development jumped five positions to number 16, and while Blackberry rose 13 places, it still ranks as only the 89th most desired skill in the Elance employment marketplace.

At its current pace, Android is poised to become the number one mobile OS in the U.S. very soon, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has been following the mobile space. RIM got a head start in the race because the Blackberry has been on the market the longest, with Apple coming to play in 2007 and Android in early 2009. But in the first seven months of 2010, Android has gained an industry-best 32% share over Blackberry and iOS (26% and 25% respectively), announcing Android as the go-to operating system for new smartphone buyers.

Despite the great numbers, the writing isn’t quite on the wall yet for Android’s competitors, as the Nielsen data says 19% of future smartphone upgraders aren’t sure which OS they want next. That uncertainty may be enough to help RIM regain its lead, or to open the door for another OS altogether—like newly launched Windows Phone 7—to step in and seize those new customers.

One thing is clear—right now, Android’s breakthrough has ushered in a tremendous opportunity for Android programmers and developers, as their skills and services will be ultimately determine if—and how far—they pull away from the pack.