(Cross-posted from 9to5Mac.com)

A pattern is emerging in smartphones. Think about it, the same scenario has been playing out over and over in every territory where Google and Apple battle for supremacy. Apple first wows the market with its iPhone. Then, Google brute forces its way into the game and eventually takes the lead thanks to countless Android handsets in all shapes, sizes and price points, carried by virtually all wireless operators. Japan, however, is an indication of a new pattern that has iOS and Android forming a duopoly that squeezes out entrenched players, upping the barrier to entry.

In the latest survey of the Japanese market by MMI Research Institute reported by Bloomberg Businessweek, Android posted an incredible 2,000 percent year-over-year growth, capturing 57 percent of the country’s 2010 smartphone market versus 38 percent for Apple’s handset (as big as anywhere) – a notable decline for the iPhone’s 72 percent share from a year earlier and also a catastrophic loss for other platforms.

Shipments of Android phones rose to 4.91 million units in the year ended March 31, Tokyo-based MM Research said in a statement today. That compares with sales of 250,000 units, or 11 percent of the market, a year earlier when devices running Google’s software started to be widely available in Japan.

Apple shipped 3.23 million iPhones in the country in the last fiscal year, all sold excursively via Softbank. The combined 57 percent share for Android plus 38 percent for iPhone leaves little room for Nokia and BlackBerry maker Research In Motion. Both brands have been reduced to the Others category with a minuscule five percent market share. Is this a sign of things to come? Read on…

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