Scrutinizing the U.S. smartphone OS landscape

To say that the wireless industry's attention is focused on smartphones is an understatement. Indeed, it may be more accurate to say that the wireless industry's future hinges on the smartphone. (Hyperbole? Probably, but the point is that smartphones are huge.)

Consider: Around 32 million U.S. cell phone users (out of a total of around 233 million) currently own smartphones, according to new numbers from research and measurement firm comScore. And, according to numbers from Yankee Group, that number is poised to grow significantly; a survey by the Boston-based research and consulting firm shows that around 43 percent of U.S. consumers plan to go "smart" with their next mobile device.

So what does this mean? For consumers, it means they will need to choose from among an almost dizzying array of options, from Windows Mobile to Android. For carriers, it means they must decide which devices to subsidize and which to ignore. And application and content companies will be forced to either support the market's spread or go deep into one or two smartphone areas.

While it's difficult to make predictions as to which smartphone operating system will eventually succeed, it's definitely worth knowing where things stand today. And in that respect, some new numbers from comScore help out dramatically. Every month, the firm polls around 30,000 U.S. cell phone users to see where the market stands--and the firm's figures provide a clear look into which smartphone platform is gaining steam (think Android) and which is cooling off (think Windows Mobile).

Further, the numbers help highlight for developers what platform has the widest reach among American smartphone users (think BlackBerry) and which doesn't. Indeed, it's worth noting that the market share for the Palm OS (not the one for the Pre but the one for the Centro) is more than double the market share for Google's Android. Now, obviously that likely will change in the coming months and years, but it helps to clamp down some perspective onto a market rife with hype and buzz. So, without further ado:

Click here to check out comScore's numbers.

And feel free to leave a comment in the box below with your thoughts on the topic. --Mike