A recent report from research firm Gartner, Inc. shows that Android is now number 1 in the worldwide market share.  Android rules with 52.2% market share in the smartphone category. This is a big lead for the operating system, since the second one on the list (Symbian OS) only has 16.9% share.

Roberta Cozza from Gartner said, “Android benefited from more mass-market offerings, a weaker competitive environment and the lack of exciting new products on alternative operating systems such as Windows Phone 7 and RIM”.

All the figures in the report are based on data collected within the third quarter of 2011.

Another interesting detail mentioned in the report is the rise of Android smartphone sales. The comparison of Q3 2010 and Q3 2011 data shows more than a hundred percent increase in the sales of Android devices. This goes to show that the operating system is gaining a stronger foothold in the smartphone market.

The entire smartphone sales for the third quarter of 2011 reached 115 million units creating a 42% increase from last year’s figures. These numbers are expected to go up this fourth quarter because of the holiday season.

The Gartner report also mentioned some underlying factors affecting the performance of other brands and operating system. For instance, according to Gartner, Apple did not do well this quarter because people were waiting for the new iPhone 4S which was just recently released. The report also attributed RIM’s poor performance to the recent Blackberry server outages.

And, not surprisingly, Samsung is now the number one smartphone maker, according to the same report.

The data from Gartner show that more and more people are opting to go for smartphones than for anything else, and that when it comes to smartphone operating systems, Android is the OS of choice.

What about you?  What is your preferred smartphone operating system and why?