comScore: As U.S. Smartphone Usage Grows, Android Nears 50 Percent Market Share

comScore just released its monthly mobile numbers, which charts smartphone usage from U.S. consumers for the three month period ending in December 2011. For the period, 234 million Americans age 13 and older used mobile devices, which is in line with the previous period’s usage. With respect to smartphone usage, 97.9 million (up from 91.4 million people in the previous period) people in the U.S. used smartphones during the three months ending in December, representing 40 percent of all mobile subscribers.

Google Android continued to be the most popular smartphone platform with 47.3 percent market share, up 2.5 percentage points from September. Apple took the second position, growing 2.2 percentage points to grab 29.6 percent of the smartphone market. RIM ranked third with 16 percent share, followed by Microsoft (4.7 percent) and Symbian (1.4 percent).

Samsung ranked as the top OEM with 25.3 percent of U.S. mobile subscribers (no change from September), followed by LG with 20 percent share and Motorola with 13.3 percent share. Apple has 12.4 percent share of total mobile subscribers (up 2.2 percentage points), while RIM following with 6.7 percent share.

As mobile phone usage increases and smartphone adoption grows, more and more consumers are actually using their mobile for functions other than phone calls. In December, 74.3 percent of U.S. mobile subscribers used text messaging on their mobile device; ownloaded applications were used by 47.6 percent of subscribers (up 5.1 percentage points), while browsers were used by 47.5 percent (up 4.6 percentage points). Accessing of social networking sites or blogs increased 3.8 percentage points to 35.3 percent of mobile subscribers. Game-playing was done by 31.4 percent of the mobile audience (up 2.6 percentage points), while 23.8 percent listened to music on their phones (up 2.9 percentage points).

Google just revealed in its fourth quarter earnings, Android has been activated on over 250 million devices, up 50 million since November of last year. But iOS is growing as well. Nielsen reported recently new smartphone buyers are more interested in the iPhone (particularly the 4S) vs. Android phones.