Reading, U.K. – Worldwide shipments of smartphones equipped
with Google’s (NASD: GOOG) Android operating system surpassed those of Nokia (NYSE: NOK) Symbian
handsets for the first time ever during the fourth quarter of 2010, according
to a report from market research firm Canalys.

Android shipments were 32.9
million during the quarter, to 31 million for Nokia’s Symbian.

HTC and Samsung
were the makers of nearly 45% of the Android-based handsets shipped; other top
manufacturers included LG and Acer.

The U.S. market remains the largest in
terms of smartphone shipments, and Android led in the fourth quarter with
shipments of 12.1 million units — nearly three times the number shipped by
BlackBerry maker RIM.

"The U.S. landscape will shift dramatically this
coming year, as a result of the Verizon-Apple agreement," said Canalys analyst
Tim Shepherd.

"Verizon will move its focus away from the Droid range, but
the overall market impact will mean less carrier-exclusive deals, while increasing
the AT&T opportunity for Android vendors, such as HTC, Motorola and Samsung."


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