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Android rules: Now No. 1 smartphone OS

by Howard Wolinsky

Android rolls on, becoming the top global smartphone operating system, Gartner Research is reporting.

The Google (GOOG) OS nearly quadrupled its market share to 36 percent of all devices shipped in the first quarter this year compared with 9.6 percent of the devices shipped in the first quarter of 2010, Gartner said.

Overall phone manufacturers shipped 36.3 million Android devices in the first quarter of 2011 compared with 5.2 million in the first quarter in 2010.

Android is expected to keep rolling up big scores in the second quarter as HTC (2498.TW), Sony Ericsson (SNE), Alcatel (ALU) and ZTE (0763.HK) are all planning “a broader portfolio of mid-tier devices, mainly based on Android” to be launched throughout the spring and early summer, according to InfoWorld.

Meanwhile, the mobile ad network Millennial Media had good news for Android as well.

Millennial said Android eclipsed Apple’s (AAPL) iOS platform in April in generating ad impressions on its network. Android generated 53 percent of ad impressions compared with 28 percent for Apple’s iOS and 16 percent for Research in Motion’s (RIMM) BlackBerry OS.

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“Millennial Media also reported that the iPhone remained on top as far as generating the most revenue from mobile applications, as 50 percent of mobile app revenue last month came from iPhones while 39 percent of all mobile app revenue in April came from Android-based devices,” InfoWorld said.

Lance Whitney said in CNET: “Smartphones continued to surge as a result of rising consumer demand. For the first time, the top-20 mobile devices tracked by Millennial Media included only smartphones and no feature phones. Since April 2010, ad impressions among all smartphones have risen by 51 percent.

Overall, smartphones accounted for 68 percent of all the mobile devices tracked last month, with feature phones snagging 16 percent share and connected devices (iPad, iPod Touch, mobile game consoles) grabbing 16 percent as well."