Smartphone Market Share: Devices Make Up Almost Half Of All Phones, With 2 Players Gunning For Top Spot

As of February 2012, nearly half (or about 49.7 percent) of U.S. mobile subscribers now own a smartphone, according to a new Nielsen report.

That's a 38 percent increase over last February, when only 36 percent of mobile subscribers owned smartphones.

Two companies are dominating the market -- and it's not Microsoft or BlackBerry-maker RIM, who formerly claimed large shares of the market. Nielsen revealed that the majority of U.S. smartphone subscribers (about 48 percent) are using Google's Android devices, while 32.1 percent are using Apple's iPhone. The rest of the market is made up of BlackBerry owners (11.6 percent) and users of "other" smartphones.

Nielsen's numbers align closely with similar research conducted by comScore and released on March 6.

According to comScore's study, which focused on "the U.S. mobile phone industry during the three month average period ending January 2012," the number of mobile subscribers owning smartphone devices passed the 100 million-mark back in January. Like Nielsen, comScore found that Android tops the list of popular smartphone platforms (48.6 percent of the market), with Apple (29.5 percent), BlackBerry (15.2 percent), and Windows Phone (4.4 percent) trailing behind.

While fewer smartphone owners use an iPhone than an Android phone, Nielsen's March 29 report shows Apple stands to catch up to Google -- 48 percent of recent acquirers surveyed in February bought an Android phone, while 43 percent purchased an iPhone.

Perhaps once the much-anticipated iPhone 5 is released, Apple will get a boost. In a report released back on January 18, Nielsen published the results of a survey of recent acquirers -- or owners who had purchased a smartphone in the previous three months -- conducted in December. They revealed that, following the October launch of the iPhone 4S, the number of recent acquirers who chose an iPhone jumped from 25.1 percent in October to 44.5 percent in December.

Check out graphs of Nielsen's findings here, then let us know: Do you own a smartphone, and, if so, which kind do you like best?