Android devices account for majority of smartphone sales in the U.S.

New research out today from the NPD Group shows that Google’s mobile operating system, Android, now accounts for 52 percent of smartphone sales in the U.S. That’s well ahead of second place finisher, Apple, which boasted a market share of 29 percent.

The gains by Android and Apple are coming at the expense of BlackBerry, which saw its share drop to 11 percent. Microsoft’s share held steady at just under five percent, signaling that the software giant is having a hard time catching up to the iPhone and Android in the mobile wars.

And that war is entering a new phase with Google’s $12.5 billion offer for Motorola, one that NPD said could change the dynamics in the wireless industry.

“Google’s acquisition of Motorola shifts the balance of power in the handset-patent conflict between Google and its operating system competitors,” said Ross Rubin, executive director of industry analysis for NPD. “Android’s momentum has made for a large pie that is attractive to Motorola’s Android rivals, even if they must compete with their operating system developer.”

Previously on GeekWire: Chart: Hundreds of thousands of apps, but only a fraction really matter in the end