New numbers released Monday by research firm NPD Group suggest that Android has further extended its lead in the U.S. with 44% of the smartphone market. The bigger news, however, is that RIM has seemingly slipped behind Apple, which is now the number 2 smartphone vendor in the United States. Last week, IDC stated that Apple passed RIM to become the fourth largest cell phone maker in the world. Now, according to the new NPD report, Apple gained a single percentage point to attain a 23% share of the U.S. smartphone market while RIM slid to 22%, making it the number 3 smartphone vendor in the U.S. NPD’s numbers vary slightly from another report issued Monday morning by Canalys, the end result is the same. Canalys reaffirms Android’s 44% market share while stating that Apple rose to 26% and RIM fell to 24%.
Despite Android’s lead as a platform, the iPhone is the most popular smartphone model in the U.S. without question. Apple currently sells only two smartphones and both are iPhone models — the $199-$299 iPhone 4 and last year’s iPhone model, the iPhone 3GS, which is now $99. The California-based company is expected to introduce a third iPhone early next year that will operate on Verizon Wireless’ CDMA network.