U.S. Smartphone Buyers Prefer Palm OS

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Although the Symbian OS is the leading smartphone operating system in Europe, the majority of smartphones sold in the U.S. run the Palm OS.

According to market research firm NPD Group, the Palm OS had 46 percent of the U.S. smartphone market in February, an increase of five points from January. Its share was boosted by rising sales of the palmOne Treo 600, and continued strong sales of Palm Powered smartphones from Samsung and Kyocera.

During that same month, the Pocket PC Phone Edition had 22 percent of the market, while Microsoft Smartphone held 13 percent.

NPD Group says the Symbian OS held 11 percent of the U.S. smartphone market, but there’s reason to question this figure. NPD’s list of smartphones does not include ones running the Symbian OS with Nokia’s Series 60 interface. However, even if these were included, it would not be enough to give the Symbian OS the lead in market share.

Smartphones running Linux held eight percent of the U.S. market.

The NPD Group tracks sales of smartphones – which it defines as phones with operating systems – through a combination of domestic retail sales reports and weekly surveys of approximately 35,000 U.S. consumers.

Not True for Europe

On the other side of the Atlantic, the market share numbers are very different. The Symbian OS completely dominates this category of devices in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region.

Over 91 percent of smart phones and feature phones shipped during the first quarter of this year to this region ran Symbian OS. Microsoft’s Windows Mobile for Smartphone was a very distant second with 7.8 percent of the market, and the Palm OS was barely on the map with 1 percent.

Smartphones Rising in Importance

In February, NPD’s report showed that smartphones accounted for about 25 percent of all Palm OS devices sold in the United States.

palmOne said that it sold about 100,000 Treo 600s during the the first quarter it was available, followed by over 250,000 the next quarter. The company said that 28 percent of its revenue during its most recent financial quarter was from sales of this smartphone, and this figure may rise to 50 percent by the end of the year.

PalmSource announced earlier this year that it will continue to develop the operating system that used to be called Palm OS 5 and is now named Palm OS Garnet. It will modify this operating system so it is even more appropriate for use in low-cost smart phones. Palm OS Cobalt, the latest operating system for PalmSource, has been designed for high-end smart phones, as well as traditional handhelds.

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