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Summary:

At first glance, the latest comScore smartphone market share figures paint a bleak picture for anyone that isn’t Android, but there’s plenty of reason to believe that iOS is holding its own. The Verizon iPhone is one, and we’ve only just begun to see its effect.

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Market research firm comScore has released its survey of some 30,000 mobile subscribers from November through February, providing the first real data on the impact of the Verizon iPhone in the U.S. The iPhone’s market share increased 0.2 percent over the three-month period, from 25 percent to 25.2 percent. That relatively small increase (Android jumped seven percent) has generated a large amount of provocative commentary, such as Business Insider declaring, “iPhone dead in water,” but the reality is a little more nuanced.

First, the Verizon iPhone went on sale Feb. 10, meaning less than three weeks of its sales were accounted for during the three-month period surveyed by comScore. Second, going back to the end of January, comScore had iPhone market share at 24.7 percent, down from 25 percent in December. The increase from January to February was actually 0.5 percent. That compares a little more favorably to Android, which saw an increase of 1.8 percent. For Apple, it also suggests a late surge in sales in February, which coincides with the Verizon iPhone launch.

Finally, there are the actual phones to consider. While the number of mobile subscribers in the U.S. using Motorola devices dropped nearly one percent, and RIM dropped 0.2 percent, Apple saw an increase of just under one percent. That’s triple the growth of Samsung, a leading Android OEM. That’s important because Samsung, as well as every other device manufacturer, has access to the entire U.S. market of some 300 million subscriptions. In comparison, Apple reaches about 200 million with AT&T and Verizon, though that will change should AT&T complete its planned acquisition of T-Mobile. That would add another 34 million potential iPhone users, but not until 2012. That’s where the blame, if any, lies in Apple’s current smartphone strategy: the lack of universal, carrier-agnostic access to the iPhone.

However, despite that failure, the iPhone has managed to maintain its market share at around 25 percent in the face of the universal availability of Android. In stark contrast, RIM has fallen from 42 percent to 29 percent, and Microsoft and HP have seen their market share halved in the last year. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say the iPhone is treading water in the U.S., while the Verizon iPhone is finally putting a little breeze in the sails. With the possibility of new hardware/software and wider availability all looming, counting Apple out of the fight is an egregious mistake.

  1. Who cares outside of Apple, Google and their fanbois? If this blog were software, stories like this would be bloatware.

    Non-corporate people that have to hear and react to this stuff need to get a life.

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  2. iOS market share is flat because “everybody” has an iPhone. Without new form factors, they’re common and boring, like a less-sucky BlackBerry. If you’ve used one BlackBerry or iPhone, you’ve pretty much used them all. From year to year, iPhones are pretty much the same, except they a hardware feature for more speed (3G/processor), probably another for some overdue feature like GPS/camera flash/faux-multitasking, and just maybe a design refresh.

    Meanwhile, an interesting new Android phone drops every other week. Between the folks who won’t care because it’s not Apple, and the many more who were never in the smartphone market, there’s a meaty middle that’s interested in fancy new displays, keyboards, blinkenlights, bells, and whistles.

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  3. These stats seem to be % of all smartphones. Even if apple’s % is constant, the NUMBER of iPhones is increasing as people replace older phones with smartphones.

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  4. how is iPhone marketshare “holding out”? what the chart doesnt show is iPhone market share skyrocketing the couple years before that, while it has flatlined for the last year. just the fact they havent grown in a market that 2yrs ago looked like they were going to completely dominate is troubling.

    I wonder if Jobs hates the Google boys as much as Gates? blowing 2 leads to the competition he feels is inferior has to really be maddening. the only thing left now is tablets but it looks like Android will be taking that market shortly as well.

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    1. From what I’ve heard, Apple still can’t manufacture iPhones quickly enough to meet demand. How is one company’s rapidly growing product supposed to keep pace with a sector which just happens to be expanding even more quickly than they are?

      “We know from company statements that Apple faces more demand than it can supply. That makes things easier for the amateur because she can just figure out production. In other words, the logical way to forecast Apple’s iPhone sales is to guess how many they can make.”(Horace Dediu, Asymco)
      http://www.asymco.com/2011/03/28/predicting-iphone-sales-for-dummies/

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