The battle between smartphone manufacturers continues to heat up with Google’s Android starting to catch up on the lead of Apple iPhone based on the latest survey of Nielsen.

Although the Apple iOS remains the most preferred operating system among US consumers, Google’s Android is fast catching up. Latest surveys revealed that the Android smartphone is starting to breath down the neck of the iPhone with Blackberry’s share of the market starting to become thin.

It can be recalled that the Android was still ranked third in Nielsen’s August 2010 survey. Its 19 percent market share was a far third from Apple’s 28 percent and Blackberry’s 31 percent. Three months later, the Android has cut down on the lead of Blackberry 25.8 percent to 26.1 percent with the iPhone holding a slim lead with 28.6 percent.

A look at the number of customers who purchased a smartphone in the last six months revealed that 40.8 percent of the market bought an Android in November, a 9 percentage point increase from August figures.

The Nielsen survey reveals the current trend that is happening in the smartphone market. The iPhone remains stable with 26.9 percent while the Blackberry dropped by 5.7 percentage points to 19.2 percent. Nielsen concludes that based on statistics, it is still neck and neck between the three smartphones with Apple still having a clear advantage. But if the trend continues, Android might overtake Apple as the smartphone industry leader with Blackberry settling for third position.

The advantage of Android is that it is available in different makes and models on the market while Apple only has the iPhone and its different variations such as the current iPhone 4. RIM, on the other hand, still has to find its place in the touch screen smartphone market. Although the release of the Blackberry Torch last year was a major improvement from the Storm and Storm 2, it did not make any significant impact on the smartphone industry.

But don’t count out RIM from the equation yet as it still has some ace up its sleeves. If it lives up to its billing, the upcoming Dual-core Playbook tablet, which will run on the QNX Software Solutions, an operating system designed by RIM itself, could beef up the sales of Blackberry smartphones.

Of course, Android will not itself be beaten to the punch as it is expected to release its own line of dual-core tablets and smartphones. The expected release of the iPhone for Verizon will also jack up Apple’s share in the market.

So the battle is still on between the top three smartphone manufacturers in their bid to make themselves the industry leader.

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