A storefront in one of the busiest shopping districts in downtown Portland, Ore., is painted black, with "Droid Does" in large letters over the doors.
Orchestrated by carrier Verizon Wireless, aggressive promotions such as this one for Motorola's (MOT) Droid smartphone, plus a blitz of direct mail, newspaper, and TV ads, and two-for-one deals on Android-powered handsets, lifted first-quarter sales of smartphones based on Google's (GOOG) Android operating system above sales of Apple's (AAPL) iPhone for the first time, market researcher NPD Group reported on May 10.
Android-powered phones accounted for 28 percent of all smartphones sold in the U.S., exceeding Apple's 21 percent share during the quarter, NPD said. Research in Motion's (RIMM) BlackBerry models led the category with a 36 percent share.
Google's Android smartphone operating system is doing well, just not quite as good as you might think from headlines like "Android overtakes Apple in US smartphone market."
It's true that the NPD Group reported yesterday that its first-quarter survey of U.S. customers put Apple's iPhone in third place behind Android, which itself trailed Research In Motion's BlackBerry. (NPD's exact figures are 21 percent, 28 percent and 36 percent.)
Set aside the possibility of statistical flaws in the Port Washington, N.Y., firm's market research. There are simply a lot more Android models and a lot more carriers to sell them to you–and in some cases you'll pay a great deal less than you would for an iPhone. You can sneer that freebie deals cheapen the Android brand, but you can't say those kinds of sales tactics don't move hardware.