While Android surges among new smartphone buyers, Apple iOS continues to hold on to the overall marketshare lead, though still within spitting distance of a fading BlackBerry OS and a hard-charging Android OS, according to the latest figures from the Nielsen Company.


While Android surges among new smartphone buyers, Apple’s iOS continues to hold on to the overall marketshare lead, although it remains within spitting distance of a fading BlackBerry OS and a hard-charging Android OS, according to the latest figures from the Nielsen Company.

According to November 2010 data, Apple holds 28.6 percent of the U.S. smartphone market, up slightly from 27.9 percent in October. BlackBerry OS slipped again in November to 26.1 percent, down from 27.4 percent in October and 33.9 percent in June. Android OS, meanwhile, closed the distance on Apple — reaching 25.8 percent in November, compared to 22.7 percent in October and 15 percent in June.

Android OS is still the best-selling smartphone OS among recent acquirers in the last six months, with a 40.8 percent share, compared to 26.9 percent for iOS and 19.2 percent for RIM. While Apple’s marketshare remains stable, Android continues to climb and BlackBerry OS shows no signs of halting its slide. While the overall marketshare puts the three rivals within just a few percentage points of each other, the latest numbers suggest that RIM is struggling to connect with users with its latest BlackBerry 6.0 devices and has a lot of work ahead of it. Android’s fast-paced growth, meanwhile, could put it on track to overtake iOS in the next month or two. But the market picture could also get altered significantly when Apple releases an iPhone on Verizon, which should goose iPhone sales. It may not prevent Android from eventually claiming the top spot, but a Verizon iPhone will likely buy Apple some more time.

This isn’t a simple horse race, mind you, because Apple and Google are not after the same things. Google needs to be a big seller for its advertising model to pay off, while Apple is still raking in handsome profits from its hardware, and will continue to do so even after Android eventually overtakes it. Apple has also managed to hold on to the top spot despite selling through only one carrier in the U.S. With an expected Verizon version, the iPhone will be more widely available, which should give us a better picture of how popular the phone is against the competition.

The big winner in all this is the smartphone market as a whole, which is growing rapidly: Nielsen said that 45 percent of recent phone buyers chose a smartphone in November, up from 34 percent in June, which suggests that we’re not too far off from a time when one out of every two handsets sold in the U.S. is a smartphone.

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  1. Let me repeat, Nielsen is a SURVEY. The percentages are not gospel.

  2. Both Apple And RIM Soon To Be Overtaken By Android In U.S. Smartphone Market Share Monday, January 3, 2011

    [...] Verizon BlackBerry users that switch to the iPhone will probably be at all time high levels.[Via Gigaom]google_ad_client = "pub-4883726997960274"; /* 300×250, created 11/6/10 */ google_ad_slot = [...]

  3. When the Verizon iPhone is available, there should be some spike in growth for Apple and also some impact on U.S. Android growth even if it’s only a slight amount. I wonder why the pundits look at Android and see unlimited growth. Even though RIM was predicted to be unstoppable it ran into a brick wall, so the future is rather uncertain. There is nothing Apple can’t afford to do to increase iPhone growth, so I don’t know why pundits think that Android is unstoppable. Just selling high unit numbers doesn’t guarantee most profits, so there’s no guarantee that every Android smartphone vendor can stay profitable selling what basically every other Android smartphone vendor is selling.

  4. As usual, although these numbers include Android tablets like the Dell Streak (and Samsung Galaxy Tab in other parts of the world), they do not include iOS devices like the iPod Touch and iPad.

    When you compare all iOS devices against all Android devices, iOS is still double the size of Android in installed base. In October, iOS devices were selling at 270,000 per day peaking at 300,000 on some days versus 200,000 Android devices.

    The recent figure of 300,000 Android devices per day for Android will have to wait till Apple releases their December quarter figures before we can see if iOS is still in the lead in unit sales, but considering iPods and iPhone sales always surge pre-Christmas, this is almost a certainty.


    1. The iPad and iPod Touch are smartphones are they? Goodness, that’s stretching the definition a bit.

      Apple may sell more iOS devices but that’s scarcely relevant here, is it?

      1. What he is saying is that this is taking into considerations of tablets that run android, not just the smart phones. I am not sure how right this is, but it is true that android phones are made by around 6 company’s and there are around 30 phones on the market. Yet apple with its 1 phone still is pushing such numbers. To me that is amazing.

      2. @Mark,
        The Google numbers include tablets because they all have cell phone hardware because Google has been refusing to allow these devices access to the Android Marketplace and Google apps unless they do so. An Android device without these is dead in the water.

        My point is also that if you are just comparing phones, you should compare the iPhone against other individual phones from Motorola or HTC.

        However, if you wish to compare mobile operating systems and are including tablets like the Dell Streak and Galaxy Tab on the Android side, then it is very misleading to not include the iPod Touch and the iPad. After all, why compare operating systems at all unless you are wanting to know how large each mobile application platform is? If so, then you of course need to include all devices than run that OS and that run those apps.

        Developers, third party peripheral manufacturers, advertisers, investors and consumers are all interested in the the total number of devices running the apps on each platform and that share a common dock interface for hardware peripherals.

        All we ever get week after week is the small phone subset of these platforms with every analyst completely ignoring the total size of each platform.

        Voice is so last century -apps and mobile browsing are what it is all about now.


      3. “Voice is so last century – apps and mobile browsing are what it is all about now.”

        Bollocks. How many iPhones do you think would be sold if they didn’t make calls? You might want to look at Deloitte’s research into the factors that are taken into account when people buy phones – apps are at number 5 after features, price, carriers and call quality.

      4. @Mark
        Regarding my last sentence about voice, you are right – that was a throw-away line that I shouldn’t have written. However, I stand by the rest of my argument. Market share is only important as far as the number of devices capable of running apps is concerned and as such it is vital that the total number of devices in each platform be counted.


  5. android is going to overtake ios. beacuse it is open and beacuse its for everyone that wants it. if you do count activation of androids tab and smart phones that is a higher number yes. but its also ONE os. ipod doesnt use ios4.or any version of it. so you can’t count ipods. even the touch is still just a music player and doesnt run on any network but a wifi connection. i wonder what would happen if apple just stopped and android kept going for 2 a year. then the amount of time they have both been out would be equal. apple came first yes. but its being overtaken. thats what happens when you have no variety and dont let the buyers do what they want with the phone they baught.

    1. Err, Jasonv, the iPod Touch does in fact use IOS4 and does run the vast majority of the apps that the iPhone runs. It is far from being just a music player. Haven’t you seen all of Apple’s ads showing it running all the big games titles that also run on the iPhone for example?

      Sales of the iPod Touch were estimated at close to 50 million a few month’s back and daily track almost as high as the iPhone itself and have surpassed the iPhone at times during the pre-Christmas period.

      Add in the astronomical sales of the iPad and you find that Android is well and truly over-shadowed.

      In comparison, the Android OS is definitely NOT the same from device to device with different manufacturers adding their own GUIs, skins and restrictions and having their own subsets of carrier-specific apps and crapware.


    2. “beacuse it is 1) open and beacuse its 2) for everyone that wants it.”
      To the first: NO, I have yet to meet someone that says they bought it because it is open (that’s false, I met 1 girl who said this but thought open means you don’t have to pay for any apps!)
      To the second: NO. Very few people want Android (except for the odd Geek type) for the average Joe, he bought it because it is cheap.
      That is why Android will ultimately win out. Not because it is GOOD/GREAT or other but rather because it is free to the manufacturer. Apple does not wish to play in that end of the market and therefore they cannot win the “global” market share game. Neither can Ferrari or Porsche or BMW or MB or even Cadillac. There shall always be more Civics or Focus’s or Corollas. You’ll see few of the former list crying over that though.

  6. I’m always amazed that articles like this exist. As if Android won’t take over iOS devices eventually.

    Question: What is iOS available on?
    Answer: THE iPHONE.

    Question: What is Android available on?
    Answer: It’s free, so it’s on hundreds of devices.

    Maybe a better comparison is if there’s a legitimate phone competitor? Or how about a comparison of which OS version of Android people are using?

    1. “Answer: It’s free, so it’s on hundreds of devices.”
      Question: what android devices are actually available for free.
      Answer: None
      Question: how much does Apple have to pay for each iOS license?
      Answer: nothing
      Question: who’s got deeper pockets Google or Apple?
      Answer: Apple
      Question: who has got economies of scale advantages Apple or an android manufacturer?
      Answer: Apple

      1. 1. Well on contract they are available for free, either through BOGOF deals or ‘Free with contract’ deals. Yo could argue that none are free when unlocked, but most people buy smartphones with contracts anyway (this is the US data so I’m talking about the US mainly).

        2. But they develop iOS and have to pay for its development.

        3. What does this have to do with anything?

        4. Could you explan this?

      2. One problem… Apple CANNOT build a basic phone with cheap parts. The others can. I see them every day. The screen reacts weird, looks weird, CPU slow, very little memory (the users buys it afterwards but for unknown reasons, never thought of including the cost when comparing to the iPhone). PLASTIC! not metal. ZERO SERVICE. In MANY cases, stuck on an old version of Android. If Apple did any of the above it would cease to be Apple and loose much of it’s market.

      3. 1. Well on contract they are available for free, either through BOGOF deals or ‘Free with contract’ deals. Yo could argue that none are free when unlocked, but most people buy smartphones with contracts anyway (this is the US data so I’m talking about the US mainly).

        If you are buying a phone on a contract, the price of the phone is embedded in the contract. No one will actually give you android device for free.

        2. But they develop iOS and have to pay for its development.
        Google develop Android and have to pay for it’s development.

        3. What does this have to do with anything?
        If apple decided not to recover development costs of iOS in iPhone prices they could and they could outlast android. Extremely unlikely to happen, unless Apple discovers a way they could make more money by doing this.
        4. Could you explan this?
        It would be fairly multi-faceted, covering everything from the prices for which they buy components, logistics, assembly, advertising & just about anything that goes into making an iPhone and getting it to the end consumer. Look at it this way, because the sell so many units the marginal cost of each additional unit will be less. One example it doesn’t necessarily cost them any more to develop iOS to sell say 1,500,000 phones v say 100,000,000 phones.
        Whilst Android may soon have a larger marketshare than apple, it shared between dozens of companies that make android devices. So none of them have apple’s scale advantage.

      4. @Rob

        1. That’s pretty much what I meant. A phone can never be free if the manufacturer actually plan to make a profit. Besides Tom’s original point was that the OS is free, not the phones.

        2. Aren’t we talking about manufacturers? Why cite Google?

        3. Doesn’t really matter. Who has deeper pockets between Google and Apple is prett unimportant.

        4. Thanks for explaining.

  7. Both Apple And RIM Soon To Be Overtaken By Android In U.S. Smartphone Market Share | BBERRYNEWS Monday, January 3, 2011

    [...] [Via Gigaom] [...]

  8. Why isn’t Windows Mobile on this list? It is the grandfather of Smartphone OS so there should be a fair legacy share for it.

  9. Android Closing in on BlackBerry U.S. Market Share [Study] Monday, January 3, 2011

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  10. Funny how there’s no mention of Windows Phone 7. A year from now when it is something you’re talking about, I’ll be back to tell you, “I told you so.”

    1. A month from now when you look at your data usage and can’t explain where that extra 2gb went from your data allowance, I’ll be back to tell you, “I told you so.”

      1. What does this even mean?

      2. Just ended a billing cycle, at 650 MB, thanks. Which also fits comfortably in the “unlimited” plan I’m on.

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