If those figures pan out among other research firms such as IDC and Gartner it's a stunning turnabout. NPD in a release says Verizon Wireless has forced the issue. Clarification: NPD's market share for Android was already high relative to other research firms such as Gartner and comScore. At the end of 2009, NPD had Android at about 20 percent of the smartphone OS market.
So why the jump in the first quarter?
According to NPD's Ross Rubin:
In order to compete with the iPhone, Verizon Wireless has expanded its buy-one-get-one offer beyond RIM devices to now include all of their smartphones.
That's largely true given that Verizon Wireless has buy one get one deals for Android devices like the Droid and Droid Eris. Previously, Verizon Wireless saved those promotions for the BlackBerry.
With this data, it's fairly clear that Apple could use a Verizon Wireless partnership.