US sales of smartphones running Google's Android mobile operating system surged past those of Apple for the first time in the first quarter of the year, industry research firm NPD said Monday.
Android-powered smartphones accounted for 28 percent of US consumer sales in the first three months of the year compared with 21 percent for the iPhone, NPD said.
Canada's Research in Motion, maker of the popular Blackberry, retained the top spot with 36 percent of US smartphone sales in the quarter, NPD said.
Strong sales of Motorola's Android-powered Droid and HTC's Android-based Droid Eris were cited as among the reasons for Android's surge past Apple.
Google makes its open-source Android software available to handset manufacturers and also sells its own smartphone, the Nexus One.
"As in the past, carrier distribution and promotion have played a crucial role in determining smartphone market share," said Ross Rubin, NPD's executive director of industry analysis.
According to NPD, smartphone sales at AT&T, the exclusive US carrier for the iPhone, comprised 32 percent of the smartphone market in the quarter, followed by Verizon Wireless (30 percent), T-Mobile (17 percent) and Sprint (15 percent).
NPD also said the average selling price for all mobile phones was 88 dollars in the first quarter, five percent higher than a year ago. Smartphone prices on the other hand decreased three percent over the previous year to 151 dollars.
The NPD findings are based on the results of online consumer research surveys conducted each month. The sales figures do not include corporate or enterprise mobile phone sales.
Apple has sold more than 50 million iPhones since introducing the device in 2007.
Explore further: Motorola unveils three smart phones for return to China