MOUNTAIN VIEW: Smartphones running on Google's Android operating system made up a majority of all global category purchases during the third quarter of this year, a new high.

Gartner, the research firm, found devices powered by Google's open source operating system took a 52.5% share of sales worldwide in Q3 2011. This equated to 60.5m handsets, a leap from 25.3m a year earlier.

Nokia, which recently unveiled a new Windows phone, held a 16.9% market share, after logging a decline to 19.5m units, versus 29.5m just 12 months ago.

Some 17.3m people bought Apple's iPhone, a lift from 13.5m year on year, meaning the company took 15% of the sector.

However, this result marked a slide of almost 3m units quarter on quarter, not least because customers put off planned purchases until the iPhone 4S was launched in October.

"Apple's iOS market share suffered from delayed purchases as consumers waited for the new iPhone," Roberta Cozza, a principal research analyst at Gartner, said.

"Android benefited from more mass-market offerings, a weaker competitive environment and the lack of exciting new products on alternative operating systems."

Cumulative smartphone sales reached 115m units in Q3, up 42% year on year but only 7% quarter on quarter, for reasons largely similar to the slowdown in growth witnessed by Apple.

"Strong smartphone growth in China and Russia helped increase overall volumes in the quarter," Cozza said.

"But demand for smartphones stalled in advanced markets ... as many users waited for new flagship devices featuring new versions of the key operating systems."

Measured against the mobile phone market as a whole, smartphones made up 26% of sales, an improvement of one percentage point on the previous quarter.

Data sourced from Bloomberg/Gartner; additional content by Warc staff