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Summary:

Cumulative Android sales started surpassing that of iPhones in 2010, but as Apple improves its handset, it often gets a sales boost following each model launch. Thanks to iPhone 5, that boost was enough to beat out Android sales in the U.S., but not overseas.

iPhone 5 camera

Android handsets as a group were outselling Apple’s iPhone for the past few months in the U.S., but Apple has regained the top spot. Smartphone sales data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech suggests that of all smartphones sold in the U.S. over the last 12 weeks, 48.1 percent were iPhones while 46.7 percent were Android phones. Apple can thank both the iPhone 5 and consumers who already owned a prior iPhone for the recent market share win. Overall, cumulative Android sales starting outpacing iPhones in 2010 although Apple often regains lost ground with new phone models.

By building a larger screened iPhone 5 that’s still compatible with all prior iOS apps, Apple was able to offer a better content consumption experience on the new model. Of the total iPhone purchases during the same three-month period, 62 percent were upgrades from an older iPhone, which lack the larger display and are also missing the fast LTE mobile broadband radio found in the new model.

But what’s happening with iPhone sales in the U.S. isn’t quite translating in other countries as noted by Kantar Worldpanel ComTech:

“Apple’s rise in the US has not been replicated in quite the same way across Europe where Android still takes the lead, accounting for 73.9% of sales in Germany and 81.7% in Spain. However, it is now enjoying share gains in four of the five major European countries with a particularly strong performance in Britain where it holds a 32.7% share. “

Regardless, this is good and somewhat expected news for Apple, which typically gets a strong sales bump with the release of a new iPhone model. How long will Apple keep the top spot as compared to Android in the U.S.? We’ll know over time, but the landscape is far more competitive than it was just a year or two ago. Google’s Jelly Bean software is vastly improved and the newest Android phones are gaining high-performance smartphone chips and 1080p displays that bring an immersive experience to handhelds.

  1. Kevin, I think you missed the real story: a new iPhone just came out and Apple did NOT dominate the market for that quarter. It just barely edged out Android in its best possible quarter. This entire story should be about Apple slipping, not about a resurgence.

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    1. Vance, I alluded to that in the end of the post as it’s not that surprising. Android devices are getting better — both in terms of hardware and software — and no single device is likely (over the long term) to outsell a vast array of phones that run a common platform. Have to remember that iPhone is a device; Android is a platform.

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      1. Yes, I did see that at the end, and that was fair. But this is about platforms and ecosystems, not single devices. People are now choosing between Android and iOS, they are selecting which “world” they want to live in, just as they did with Microsoft or Apple in computers. So, this is not about “more phone options = more sales”, is about which platform people are opting for (for a variety of reasons).

        And, in the long run, as a user of a given platform, the total marketshare of that platform is what is crucial. Total users will ultimately dictate the developer focus, which will ultimately dictate user experience, in my opinion.

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      2. “And, in the long run, as a user of a given platform, the total marketshare of that platform is what is crucial…” – Vance

        And therein lies the fatal flaw in your theory. Developers, content providers and advertisers do not follow the units sold, they follow the money. And while iOS has shown an ability to monetize the platform, Android has not.

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      3. John, see my post below on that point. 1. There is a point of total marketshare that will tip the scales on profitability. 2. There is already evidence that the profitability of platform is already shifting. I agree they will follow the money, I just don’t think the money (for developers) will always point to Apple.

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    2. Yes and no. Total users won’t determine where developers put their focus. That’s part of it. But devs will also look to see which platform is most likely to bring in the most revenue, and that’s still iOS. When you look at time spent web browsing, magazine downloads, game downloads, or dev revenue doled out — Apple is still in the lead by a hefty margin. Every user doesn’t have equal value to the ecosystem.

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      1. That is very true, but there is a tipping point, a critical mass of marketshare that will turn even profitability in Android’s favor, especially since apps are digital and there is no greater cost to produce the apps for greater numbers. When iOS has 35% marketshare, they could still be more profitable for developers than Android’s 55%, let’s say. But, if the difference was something like 70% to 20%, then it is very likely that, at that point, developers would make more total profits on Android. Further, one recent study has shown that the profitability gap has shrunk with the rise of in-app sales. It seems that while iOS users are more likely to pay for apps, Android users are just as likely to spend money inside the app. Eventually huge masses of users pay off.

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    3. Roy Robert Lippin Wednesday, November 28, 2012

      lol

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  2. Never heard of Kantar Worldpanel ComTech so I’ll wait for a more reputable source to come out.

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    1. Just because you haven’t heard of a $2 billion media company doesn’t mean they aren’t reputable.

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  3. You do realize that nobody has ever heard of Kantar Worldpanel ComTech that their numbers are complete bogus yet that’s enough for you to write an article about it on gigaom?

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  4. These continuing iPhone/Android grudge matches are silly. Sure, they get page clicks (hell, I clicked) but they aren’t fair comparisons. The iPhone represents one phone model and Android represents an operating system that encompasses several phone models. Android fans who rejoice at Android “outsells” iPhone stories is like taking pride that GM’s total automobile fleet outsold the Honda Accord.

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    1. Android owns 95% market share in China while iPhone is 3%. This is not about one model outselling the other, this is about one open ecosystem destroying the other closed proprietary incompatible ecosystem. Every day more than 7 Android phones are sold worldwide for each 1 iphone that is sold. This is what this is about.

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      1. “iPhone wrests the US smartphone sales crown back from Android” SALES are what the story is about. Read it in the headline.

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      2. What the story is about is sales, in the US, for a single quarter, which happens to be the quarter in which the new iPhone was sold. And the fact that, despite the huge pent up demand for a new iPhone, they were still only able to squeak past Android in the only quarter they could hope to dominate.

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    2. The story is completely bogus. There is no way iphone overtook Android in the USA or anywhere else in the world. Android dominates by far in sale even in Cupertino California. Kantar is a totally bogus firm.

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      1. Chrabax: my typical question to your typical comments: source? ;) Specifically on the “no way iphone overtook Android in the USA” bit since that’s the key bit of info in the story. Thx!

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      2. Kevin is right, it is entirely logical that Apple should outsell Android in the quarter in which the new iPhone is released. What is bad news for Apple is 1. this is the only quarter in which they will ever outsell Android again. 2. They only BARELY outsold them despite this being their “iPhone release” quarter.

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      3. What is your source Kevin C Tofel!!! How can you believe that some totally out of nowhere bogus firm with the name Kantar somehow can be used as a source for a story on gigaom? Just because some other bogus journalists at techcrunch, asymco and other bogus sites link to it does not make a trusted source. Kantar HAS NEVER been used as source before for anything, there is no reason to start using them now as a source. My source is the FACTS OF ANDROID, everyone can lookup about 100 different reliable sources for Android huge lead over iPhone in every single market worldwide.

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        1. Gotcha. So I should believe Charbax because he says so and not Kantar which is described as:

          “Kantar is one of the world’s largest insight, information and consultancy networks. By uniting the diverse talents of its 13 specialist companies, the group aims to become the pre-eminent provider of compelling and inspirational insights for the global business community. Its 28,500 employees work across 100 countries and across the whole spectrum of research and consultancy disciplines, enabling the group to offer clients business insights at each and every point of the consumer cycle. The group’s services are employed by over half of the Fortune Top 500 companies” ;)

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      4. Kevin C Tofel, you should not write an article every time that a NEW NEVER BEFORE USED source shows up with one after the other completely bogus reports on Apple market share being up. Why do you think they use a new different “analyst” firm every single time! Each of these supposed stats on advertising showing, on supposed reports of sales, they are each more bogus than the previous one. And nop, DO NOT use whatever crunchbase description of a firm as source neither. Techmeme is ridiculous and you should not believe 50% of what gets aggregated there.

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        1. Charbax, instead of the lecture, show me the data that backs up your claim that there is no way iPhone has outsold Android devices in the given time period in the U.S. That’s all I’m asking for. If you can provide it, I’m happy to read it and make adjustments. If not, then just stop. Thanks.

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      5. I should stop??!! What is a real shame is that you are participating in the bogus mnedia that re-blogs whatever completely never heard/used before “analyst” every time they have some new totally bogus numbers pulled out and spread by Apple’s mafia just to try to inverse some bad stock market trends they are having. This is the only shame.

        Even IDC cannot be trusted, but here, you probably were part of the techmeme mafia that reblogged that too just a few weeks ago: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20121101006891/en/Android-Marks-Fourth-Anniversary-Launch-75.0-Market Android having 75% marketshare worldwide. Or the reports on Android dominating more than 90% of the sales in China.

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        1. Charbax. Feel free to keep commenting but I’m going to extricate myself from the conversation. Why? Because you haven’t provided the simple bit of information I asked for, i.e.: data showing that the iPhone didn’t outsell Android in the U.S. during the reported time frame. Instead, you add more data points that are relevant, but don’t disprove anything. It’s really that simple. And no (you’re wrong again): I did not reblog anything from the link you provided. Thanks!

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      6. Question for you, ARMdevices.net: what does the marketshare in China and the rest of the world have to do with this article, which is not talking about marketshare at all and is not talking about sales outside the US. This is a VERY specific statistic: sales (not marketshare) for a 12-week period (not all-time) in the US (not worldwide).

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        1. Hey now, let’s not let logic or details get in the way of things, ‘k? ;)

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      7. Kevin C Tofel, Vance, so now IDC, Gartner, all those guys are not able to measure statistics for the USA???

        It’s pathetic that one trusts a never before heard about or never before used source of information and uses that as data for Apple’s Techmeme propaganda machine, filling up the blogosphere with another round of totally bogus numbers, and then your argument is that I do not have data? NO! YOU DO NOT HAVE DATA. Man this is ridiculous that I should be writing more in this thread. This post is wind, noise, useless. If you do not have real data, then don’t writ a blog post. This is just so pathetic. That all these techmeme blogs, supposedly reliable sites like techcrunch, gigaom, cnet, slashgear, business “insider” and some random bogus bloggers that can post on forbes, that somehow you all feel the need to write and re-blog some things, taken out of absolutely pull out of ass new name for an analyst NEVER BEFORE APPEARED on same said blogs, do you have some kind of quota to fill up? It’s like what you guys write has no consequence, take no responsibility.

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      8. What I find odd is that anyone would doubt this could be a correct statistic. While Android does have around a 65% total marketshare (depending on the source) in the US (greater worldwide), this is THE quarter Apple has been waiting for, the one in which people finally go out and buy their long-awaited phone in droves. As a layman who keeps close tabs on this market (and an Android enthusiast) I expected that this quarter’s sales number ratio would be MUCH higher in the iPhone’s favor, while still not effecting their minority status in US and worldwide marketshare.

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    3. I would disagree entirely. They are both platforms, and people are choosing which platform they want to “live in”. One platform has a lot of phones, the other has a couple of phones. But that is immaterial to the end user, since the crucial point is which platform, ecosystem and “mobile world” customers are choosing. That customer platform choice will drive the future experience of the users. Sure, the success of each OEM will be determined by all sorts of factors, including total sales of their particular devices. But the more important user experience factor will be based on the success and vibrancy of the platform itself.

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  5. Vance the only reason Apple didnt surpass overseas is because it just became available to most countries and still isn’t for sale in several others..

    lets see you get what you pay for.. free phone with google os vs @ $200 minimum with ios.. that’s hard for someone who is just looking for a free device..

    But i will say LOVE the trolling…

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    1. But, Jeremy, the phones which are the big sellers for Android are not the free ones, but phones like the Galaxy S3, which cost as much as the iPhone, if not more. There are probably around 15 Android phones which cost as much as the iPhone whose combined sales would be greater than the iPhone. The fact is that people walking into their carrier now willing to spend good money on a phone have a choice between either an expensive Android phone or an expensive iPhone, and as many or more are choosing the expensive Android phone. Because, as you say, you get what you pay for.

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  6. Now what this article fails to mention is the fact that yes the Iphone might have outsold any other single Android phone but that is not impressive. For Android people have choice and with Apple you only get 1 phone. That is like Honda only making the Civic and gloating about how they sold more Civics than Ford sold Focus or Mustangs when Ford has a huge selection. Now where Apple fails is IOS outselling Android OS.

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  7. Apple IOS will never beat Android in marketshare. This article should be titled “Apple iphone 5 outsells any other SINGLE Android phone this Quarter”. Although the Galaxy S3 was the best selling smartphone beating the IP4S but ill have to look at sales of IP5 to compare. Point is stop bragging your choice of only 1 phone outsold android single phone cause in the end i am glad i have a choice and can upgrade at anytime while Applers have to wait for Apple to give them something new or not.

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