Android Beats iOS In European Smartphone Market Share, Still Behind Symbian

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Europe is growing quite fond of Google’s Android operating system, according to market research firm ComScore. Android devices now account for nearly a quarter of all the smartphones used in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK — a dramatic jump over the Google OS’s performance last year.

In July 2010, Android only accounted for 6% of the smartphones used in those five European markets, putting it dead last behind Symbian, Apple, Microsoft, and RIM. One year later, Android has zoomed past their rivals in Cupertino, and now is second only to Symbian in terms of market share.

Now, a full 22.3% of EU5 smartphones run on Android, a 16 point bump over last year. The most popular Android handsets are made by HTC, accounting for 34.6% of all devices, with Samsung hot on their heels at 31.7%.

Symbian’s hold on the lead is, at present, tenuous at best: while it powered more than half of the smartphones in the EU5 last year, usage has slipped to 37.8%, a drastic shift by any stretch. Given Android’s explosion in popularity, this could be Symbian’s last appearance in the top spot.

Meanwhile, Apple slips to third place with 20.3% of the market. They’ve benefitted from a very slight increase in market share over the last year, but that could all change soon. When Apple’s long-awaited iPhone 5 (or 4S, or whatever it ends up being called) launches, it’s likely to steal a bit of market share from all parties, perhaps securing them a second place finish next time around.

The entire landscape is in flux, and the chart below may not look anything like it does when ComScore’s next report pops up. Android will probably continue to pick up steam thanks to HTC and Samsung’s wide product lines, and Apple (as mentioned) will see a bump thanks to new hardware. Similarly, RIM’s forthcoming QNX BlackBerrys could help them pick up some steam, as could Microsoft’s WP7 Mango update.