ComScore: Samsung Widens Lead As Top Mobile Brand In U.S., Android 51% Of All Smartphones

Samsung doesn’t break out actual unit sales figures for its mobile handset business, but many analyst houses are estimating that it is the brand to beat anyway. The latest tip comes from ComScore, which today released the results of its regular poll of 30,000 U.S. consumers to gauge the state of the mobile market. It found that Samsung accounted for 26 percent of all handsets — smartphone or otherwise — used in the U.S. in the last three months. LG came in second position at 19.3 percent.

And smartphone use continues to grow: comScore found that there are now 106 million smartphones in use in the U.S., a nine percent increase over the previous quarter. Likewise, the services associated with them also continue to become more ubiquitous: a full 50 percent of consumers have now downloaded and used mobile apps.

Samsung’s 26 percent share of the overall mobile market, on the back of popular models like the Galaxy SII (pictured) represents a wider lead than Samsung had in the previous quarter. In the last three months that ended December 2011, Samsung’s share was 25.3 percent and LG’s was 20 percent. Apple increased its share over the period and now has 14 percent of the market (compared to 12.4 percent the quarter before).

And because we are seeing a gradual consolidation as the mobile market continues to mature, others declined. Specifically, Motorola was down to 12.8 percent and HTC to six percent. HTC sells only smartphones so that will impact its overall standing among handset makers making both those and feature devices. RIM, currently showing off its BB10 at its big conference in Florida, didn’t make the top five.

In the battle for platform dominance, Android also increased its lead over iOS as the leading smartphone OS. Google’s mobile OS now has a 51 percent share of the market, compared to Apple’s 30.7 percent and RIM’s 12.3 percent. While both Apple and Google increased, RIM and Windows Phone declined, and Symbian stayed final position with a stable 1.4 percent.

As for mobile content, we love to read about apps and there have definitely been some crazy best-sellers but the most-used feature — again, considering the full range of phones in the market today — is still text messaging, used by 74.3 percent of all U.S. consumers and stable in its usage over the previous quarter.

Apps usage increased slightly and apps are now used by half of all consumers, while the use of mobile web browsers also grew, but not by as much. Still, mobile web remained nearly at parity, with apps usage, with mobile web browsing 49.3 percent compared to apps usage at a full 50 percent. Social networking, gaming and music consumption also increased in usage.