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Handsets like the Motorola Droid propelled Google to a tremendous market share gain, putting it within striking distance of third place competitor Microsoft.   (Source: AP)
Google jumped from 3.8 percent of the market in November 2009 to 9.0 percent in February 2010

A note to smartphone manufacturers: watch your back.

Google's Android smartphone operating system is doing quite well in the market, posting an incredible 236 percent growth in market share between November 2009 and February 2010, according to recently released metrics from market research firm ComScore.

That gain catapulted the open smartphone maker from 3.2 percent of the market to 9.0 percent of the market, sending it leaping over Palm into fourth place.  Speaking of Palm, the company's slide continues as it shed 1.8 percent market share, dropping from 7.2 percent to 5.4 percent.

Google's gains were fueled in part by the launch of the advanced Motorola Droid and HTC Nexus One handsets, which brought multi-touch to Android at last.

The picture isn't pretty for Microsoft either, who has to endure the agonizing wait for Windows Phone 7.  Microsoft was the biggest loser for the quarter, dropping from 19.1 percent to 15.1 percent.  That big loss means that with one more big quarter Google could pass Microsoft and move into third place.

Apple also posted a surprising loss as it awaits the release of the fourth generation iPhone this summer, which is rumored to bring an HD screen to the popular device.  The loss was minimal -- Apple shed 0.1 percent, dropping from 25.5 percent to 25.4 percent of the market.

Still, it marks a reversal of a long growth trend for Apple.  Apple has cause for concern with Android, as illustrated by its recent litigation against Android handset maker HTC, which its suing to try block all phone imports.  Apple's biggest asset is its 150,000 apps, but Droid's app library is rapidly expanding, and it now has 30,000 apps of its own.

RIM, meanwhile enjoys a healthy lead thanks to its loyal legion of business users.  The Blackberry maker remains somewhat aloof to the Apple-Microsoft-Google war that's developing below.  RIM's marketshare grew slightly over the quarter, jumping from 40.8 percent to 42.1 percent of the market.





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