Does Android's growth spell the end of BlackBerry?

Jason AnkenyGoogle (NASDAQ:GOOG) is now activating 300,000 new Android powered devices each day, up from 200,000 in August 2010, according to a Twitter update posted last week by Google vice president of engineering Andy Rubin. Think about that: Google is activating 12,500 new Android devices per hour, or roughly 208 devices per minute. To further illustrate Android's meteoric growth, consider that the platform represented 23.5 percent of the U.S. smartphone market as of October 2010, drawing close to rival Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS at 24.6 percent, according to data issued last week by research firm comScore--Android made up just 17 percent of U.S. smartphones as recently as July 2010, while iOS accounted for 23.8 percent.

The impact of Android's growth ripples across the mobile landscape. Mobile advertising network Millennial Media reports Android represented 54 percent of its application platform mix in November, averaging 10 percent month-over-month growth over the last four months; Millennial adds that 29 percent of developers not presently writing Android apps plan to focus on the platform in 2011, ahead of both iPad and Windows Phone 7 at 20 percent each. Developers turning their attention to Android over the year ahead will discover a user population hungry for mobile data experiences: Android owners score even higher than both iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 users in regard to data call volumes, time connected to the network and kilobits of data volume uploaded and downloaded, according to a study issued last week by network management software solutions provider Arieso. Samsung Galaxy users typically upload 126 percent more data than iPhone 3GS users, Arieso states, while HTC Desire users download 41 percent more data than their iPhone 3GS counterparts.

As Android's fortunes flourish, Research In Motion's (NASDAQ:RIMM) BlackBerry continues to fade. BlackBerry remains atop the U.S. smartphone market, comScore reports, but its share lead plunged from 39.3 percent in July to 35.8 percent in October. According to data supplied to All Things Digital by ITG Investment Research analyst Matthew Goodman, Android devices represented 80 percent of Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) smartphone sales in November--roughly a year ago, BlackBerry devices accounted for over 90 percent of the operator's smartphone sales, ITG notes. It looks grim for RIM: Nielsen reports that among all U.S. smartphone users planning to upgrade their current device, iOS is the likely destination for 35 percent of respondents, with Android at 28 percent and BlackBerry at 15 percent--however, among feature phone owners looking to upgrade, Android is targeted by 28 percent of respondents, edging past iOS at 25 percent and well ahead of BlackBerry at 11 percent. When you consider how far Android has come in the year that was, you realize how much further BlackBerry can still fall in the year to come. -Jason