“As in the past, carrier distribution and promotion have played a crucial role in determining smartphone market share,” said Ross Rubin, executive director of industry analysis for NPD. “In order to compete with the iPhone, Verizon Wireless has expanded its buy-one-get-one offer beyond RIM devices to now include all of their smartphones.”

Apple’s decision thus far to stick with AT&T as the sole wireless carrier for the iPhone seems to be costing the company market share as Google’s multi-carrier Android operating system eats up an increasing slice of the smartphone pie, new data suggest.

A survey on first-quarter 2010 smartphone sales by NPD Group found that Android-based phone sales edged past Apple to become the No. 2 system,  with 28 percent, behind Research In Motion, which leads with 32 percent of the market. Apple’s share was 21 percent of the market.

AT&T Leads The Pack

The survey also found that AT&T is responsible for the most devices in use, at 32 percent nearly neck and neck with Verizon Wireless’ 30 percent. Trailing are T-Mobile with 17 percent and Sprint/Nextel with 15 percent.

With the addition of Palm’s Pre and Pixi phones, AT&T is now the only carrier to feature plans on all five top operating systems: Apple’s iPhone, Palm’s webOS, Research in Motion’s BlackBerry, Microsoft ‘s Windows  Phone Series 7 and—with the new Motorola Backflip—Google’s Android.

“As in the past, carrier distribution and promotion have played a crucial role in determining smartphone market share,” said Ross Rubin,  executive director of industry analysis for NPD. “In order to compete with the iPhone, Verizon Wireless has expanded its buy-one-get-one offer beyond RIM devices to now include all of their smartphones.”

An AdMob survey two weeks ago also found that…

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