Google's Android operating system took 29 percent of U.S. smartphone market share in January, breaking a statistical tie with Apple's iOS and Research In Motion's BlackBerry platforms in growing 2 percentage points from December.
However, Nielsen data also noted that while Android handsets might have a slight edge over the iPhone and BlackBerry-powered gadgets, RIM and Apple lord over other device makers, "since they are the only ones creating and selling smartphones with their respective operating systems."
HTC is third, accounting for 12 percent of Android smartphones purchased, and 7 percent running Microsoft Windows Mobile or Windows Phone 7.
The company, which has been selling the new HTC Shift since January, has a litany of Android sets on tap for 2011 to bolster its lead. These include the HTC Thunderbolt and HTC Merge CDMA world phone.
Motorola was next as a purveyor of Android handsets, as 10 percent of smartphone owners had a Motorola Android device, with only 1 percent still using a Windows-based Motorola phone.