Nielsen: new smartphone owners want Android

Faith Merino · April 26, 2011 · Short URL:

A report from Nielsen finds that Android devices are the top choice among consumers

Nielsen released Tuesday a new report confirming what everyone else has been saying for at least a month or two now: Google has officially trumped Apple in the smartphone market.  

The report notes that between January and March 2011, 31% of consumers who planned to get a new smartphone selected Android as their OS of choice, while those who indicated Apple’s iOS as their first choice came in just under Android at 30%. Poor RIM has been ghettoized to 11%.

By comparison, between July and September 2010, a full 33% of consumers in the market for a new smartphone wanted an iPhone, while only 26% wanted an Android device, and 13% indicated they wanted a RIM Blackberry.

But those January-March numbers don’t make sense, you might be saying. 30+31+11 doesn’t equal 100%. Nielsen noticed this too and noted that fully 20% of consumers looking for a smartphone don’t know what to get, which means there’s a big gap for any OS to fill—which is probably where Windows Phones scrounge for their 7% or so share of the market.

Additionally, Nielsen noted that these figures are translating directly into sales. Fully half of those surveyed in March who had purchased a smartphone in the preceding six months chose an Android device while some 25% purchased an iPhone and 15% purchased a Blackberry. So while Nielsen doesn’t come out and explicitly say it, this seems to indicate that that 20% of consumers who aren’t sure which device to get end up going with Android.

It would be interesting to find out why those users gravitated more towards Android than Apple, but I know that when I was in the market for a new phone in September, one of my major sticking points with the iPhone was having to sign a contract with AT&T, knowing how much AT&T sucks. Of course, Apple has since signed with Verizon as well, and that doesn’t appear to have changed the trajectory of Android’s ascent in market share.

By Nielsen’s numbers, as of March 2011, 37% of smartphone owners had an Android device, compared to 27% of those with iPhones and 22% of those with Blackberries.

ComScore’s numbers, while slightly different, reflect the same general market share pattern, with 33% of smartphone users owning an Android device compared to 25.2% of those with iPhones. Unlike Nielsen’s report, however, comScore finds that RIM still outpaces Apple with 28.9% of the smartphone market. But then again, these numbers reflect February's smartphone market; comScore hasn't yet released its numbers for March, so perhaps RIM slipped into third place while no one was looking.

It's also worth noting that comScore recently found that when all of Apple's devices are totaled against all of Android's devices, Apple has a much farther consumer reach than Android. Taking all of Apple's devices into account, including the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, Apple has a combined platform reach of 37.9 million, which is 59% more than Android’s 23.8 million users. Broken down by market share, Apple takes 16.2% of the market, while Android takes 10.2%.  

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