Summary:

One more analyst house has released some numbers that underscore just how strong an impact Apple’s iPhone 4S launch had on smartphone sales…

Siri on iPhone 4S
photo: Corbis / Joshua Sudock

One more analyst house has released some numbers that underscore just how strong an impact Apple’s iPhone 4S launch had on smartphone sales in the last quarter: Nielsen says the phone accounted for 44.5 percent of all smartphone sales in the U.S. in the month of December — just 2.4 percent below Android and a massive rise on iPhone’s U.S. sales share of 25.1 percent in October 2011.

Following a trend that we have seen from others who are tracking sales of smartphone handsets in the U.S. and UK, and the anticipation — sometimes violent — for the handset, Nielsen’s analysts note that the iPhone 4S was a big driver behind this trend, accounting for 57 percent of iPhone sales last month.

RIM’s BlackBerry devices were a distant third in the top-three platforms, accounting for only 4.5 percent, representing a steady decline for the platform and brand over the last few months.

Nielsen says that as of Q4 2011, the base of U.S. mobile consumers who are now using smartphones stands at 46 percent, and the number continues to grow: among recent acquirers, the number of users taking smartphones was 60 percent.

That’s a trend that will get a boost because of a profusion of inexpensive devices. Research from Deloitte out earlier this week noted that we will start to see ever more smartphones entering the market in the year ahead as an increasing number of models priced below $100 get released, and not just in developing countries but advanced markets like the U.S. and parts of Asia and Europe.

Deloitte believes that worldwide the number of sub-$100 smartphones will total more than 500 million by the end of 2012. These devices, however, may be a far cry from the all-speaking, powerful handsets coming out from the top vendors today: the ongoing high price for certain components will mean that sub-$100 handset makers will be looking to cut corners on specifications and functionality to continue to make margins on their devices.

In the U.S., Nielsen says that Android has continued to remain in the overall lead for mobile penetration, with a 46.3 share of the market for the quarter. Apple’s iOS accounted for 30 percent, while BlackBerry took a 14.9 percent. Disconcertingly, Windows Mobile, a legacy system, still has a bigger share than Windows Phone 7, according to Nielsen: they are 4.6 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively.

Android continues to hold the lead among all smartphone users, with 46.3 percent of all smartphone owners surveyed in Q42011 reporting they have an Android-based mobile phone.

As of Q42011, 46 percent of US mobile consumers had smartphones, and that figure is growing quickly. In fact, 60 percent of those who said they got a new device within the last three months chose a smartphone over a feature phone.

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By Ingrid Lunden

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