Apple's iOS Dethrones Android ... for Now

There's a game of thrones brewing, tech investors, and it has nothing to do with the popular HBO series depicting a feudal struggle among nobles for control of the fictional realm of Westeros.

This game is far more real, and there's much more at stake for Apple (NAS: AAPL) and Google (NAS: GOOG) investors. The prize? Dominion over the global smartphone market.

King Google was partially dethroned last year. A new report from researcher Kantar Worldpanel ComTech says Apple's iOS controlled 44.9% of the market versus 44.8% for Android handsets in the fourth quarter.

Worldwide, Android still leads. But Apple's growth has recently accelerated in several countries, Kantar said in its report. In Britain, for example, the Mac upped its share to 34% from 22% in last year's Q4.The gains help to explain Apple's sparking fiscal first-quarter results.

"Apple has continued its strong sales run in the U.S., UK, and Australia over the Christmas period. Overall, Apple sales are now growing at a faster rate than Android across the nine countries we cover," said Dominic Sunnebo, global consumer insight director, in a press release.

Admittedly, we're talking about short-term trends here, and today's leader could very well become tomorrow's laggard. Nokia (NYS: NOK) just reported sharp declines in shipments smart and plain-vanilla handsets.

Days earlier, Research In Motion (NAS: RIMM) replaced its founding co-CEOs at the behest of the board in what looks like a Hail Mary attempt at reigniting growth lost in the rise of Apple's iOS and Google's Android. So while it's appropriate for Apple investors to celebrate Kantar's report, I'd avoid anything resembling a touchdown dance. This game of thrones is far too volatile.

The good news? You needn't throw caution to wind to profit from the post-PC world emerging around us. The Motley Fool recently homed in on how mobile computing is changing fortunes in a report entitled "The Next Trillion-Dollar Revolution." Thousands have already requested the report, which is available for a limited time. Get your copy before the offer expires -- the research is 100% free.

At the time this article was published Fool contributorTim Beyersis a member of theMotley Fool Rule Breakersstock-picking team. He owned shares of Apple and Google at the time of publication. Check out Tim'sWeb home,portfolio holdings, andFoolish writings, or connect with him onGoogle+or Twitter, where he goes by@milehighfool. You can also get his insightsdelivered directly to your RSS reader.The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Google.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Google and Apple and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.

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