Android sales pass iPhone in last half year

Ronny Kerr · August 3, 2010 · Short URL:

As smartphone penetration continues to rise, the balance of brand shares seems to teeter

The number of U.S. smartphone users is on the rise: smartphone penetration of all mobile subscribers, which was 16% in Q2 2009, has now hit 25%, according to the latest Nielsen Company data. But then, what with dropping costs of smartphones in tandem with a fiercely growing competitive market, this shouldn't be news to anyone.

What really surprises is Android's incredible rise above iPhone in terms of new sales from the past six months.

Apple vs Google

Claiming 33% of all new smartphone subscribers in the past six months, RIM BlackBerry OS still holds the largest share of the market, though that dominance has dipped considerably since Q2 2009, when 45% of all new smartphone subscriptions were tied to RIM.

Generally considered the BlackBerry's chief usurper, the iPhone hit a spike in new acquirers in Q4 2009 (34%), but its latest share of new acquirers has returned to its state in Q2 2009 (23%).

The mobile operating system singularly responsible for Apple's slowdown is undoubtedly Google Android, which rapidly rose from 6% of new smartphone subscribers in Q4 2009 to 27% currently.

One important thing to consider, however, is the sheer number of Android phones available at any given time. Right now, as has most often been the case, Apple offers two versions of the iPhone: the newest one and the last newest one (right now, that translates to iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS). And both are on AT&T. Android, on the other hand, offers at least ten devices on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon, the largest domestic wireless carrier.

Both Apple and Google are vying for control for the mobile space, but they've opted for wildly contrasting strategies. Apple wants to control every aspect of the user experience and Google wants to provide a more open and accessible platform. Indeed, both Apple's and Google's rise to prominence in the mobile space are admirable feats, each in their own right.

Still, Nielsen calls the iPhone "the most desired phone" since 21% of Android owners and 29% of BlackBerry owners want an iPhone next, while only 11% of iPhone owners would consider switching to a new device. Apple loyalty, strong as ever, likely fuels the company's other mobile offerings, like the iPad, iPod Touch, and even laptop computers.

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