The Nielsen Company released its monthly survey of U.S. smartphone consumers today to reveal a change in the playing field: Android is now the most desired OS in America.

The survey of consumers planning on buying a smartphone in the next year, conducted from January through March of 2011, reveals that 31 percent of those surveyed plan on purchasing an Android device, up from the 26 percent counted in the July-August 2010 survey. This overtakes Apple’s iOS as the weapon of choice, which 30 percent of those surveyed plan on buying, down from 31 percent last summer. [Nielsen]

Among recent buyers surveyed in March, Android is king, maintaining 50 percent of the market share, overshadowing the 25 percent held by iOS and the 15 percent held by RIM. Total market share data among all consumers reveals Android in a sizeable lead with 37 percent, with iOS coming in second at 27 percent.

What does it mean for Android? Well, for one, it looks like Android is growing faster than any other operating system, which bodes well for future sales. But will Android hit a ceiling? Data reveals steady growth without much of slowdown like we’ve seen with iOS, which is great news for Google and its mobile partners. [The Nielsen Company]