SAN FRANCISCO - Smartphones and tablets powered by Google's Android software are devouring the mobile gadget market, eating into Apple's turf by feeding appetites for innovation and low prices, analysts say.

The Android operating system powered nearly three out of four smartphones shipped worldwide in the recently ended quarter as the mobile platform dominated the market, according to industry trackers at IDC.

"Android has been one of the primary growth engines of the smartphone market since it was launched in 2008," said IDC's mobile phones research manager Ramon Llamas.

"In every year since then, Android has effectively outpaced the market and taken market share from the competition."

In tablets, Apple's (IW 500/9) market share has fallen to just over 50% from 65% in the second quarter as Android devices gain ground, according to IDC figures.

"Having a lot of people building a lot of things covering a lot of price points with multiple brands in multiple places makes a big difference," said NPD Group analyst Stephen Baker.

"Variety is strength when it comes to moving units."

Android smartphones shipments surged to 136 million, topping those in the same three-month period last year by slightly more than 90%, IDC reported.