Blog Post

Android Sales Overtake iPhone in the U.S.

Sales of Google Android (s goog) phones in the U.S. are rising so quickly, the devices have outsold Apple (s aapl) handsets for the first time on record. New smartphone subscribers choosing Google phones accounted for 27 percent of U.S. smartphone sales, the Nielsen Company will announce this morning, nudging past the 23 percent share held by Apple. But Android isn’t just a U.S. phenomenon: Canalys today estimates that Android handset sales grew 886 percent worldwide from the year ago quarter.

It’s easier to show stellar growth in the beginning of  a product cycle, but Android is nearly two years old. One could make the valid argument that Android really began to mature over the past year with Android 2.1, so from that standpoint, Google’s platform is still an infant when compared to iOS4, BlackBerry (s rimm) and other mobile operating systems. But the uptake of Android among handset-makers is another factor in such growth. Motorola’s Mobile Device division (s mot) has swung from losses to profits on the back of Android, for example. And HTC — once primarily a Windows Mobile phone maker — embraced Android even as Microsoft’s (s msft) mobile platform is undergoing a major facelift. The result? HTC revenues were up 66 percent in June from a year ago.

As hot a seller as Google Android phones are right now, its user base isn’t the most satisfied with their device. When surveying current Android device owners, Nielson found that 71 percent would buy an Android phone again. That sounds like a high loyalty rating, but it falls noticeably short when asking iPhone owners about their next handset — 89 percent are happy with iOS4 and plan to buy a future Apple handset.

Both the Android and iOS4 platforms still trail the 33 percent U.S. share held by Research in Motion’s BlackBerry devices, but for many, BlackBerry needs an overhaul. One half of the current BlackBerry owners surveyed don’t want another RIM device when it comes time to upgrade, but instead are looking at replacements running either Google’s or Apple’s mobile platform. Even with the top market share spot in the U.S., RIM share has been trending down because the current devices are seen as inferior when it comes to browsing or offering apps. That should change tomorrow as RIM is holding a press event where it is widely expected the company will debut its new BlackBerry 6 operating system and potentially new devices, such as a tablet.

Given that the U.S. currently has the largest smartphone user base — Canalys estimates 14.7 million smartphones were purchased in the U.S. last quarter — it’s easy to overlook the current king of smartphone sales globally: Nokia (s nok). In the second quarter of 2010, the Finnish phone-maker sold 23.8 million handsets. Nokia saw a 41 percent growth rate over the prior year’s second quarter sales, which sounds positive, but when compared to Android’s 886 percent gain, Nokia’s growth pales in comparison. The overall smartphone market is growing, which is lifting sales of nearly all. But some — like Android — are clearly growing far faster than others.

Related GigaOM Pro Research (sub req’d):

Why RIMs Future (Unfortunately) Hinges on BlackBerry OS 6

285 Responses to “Android Sales Overtake iPhone in the U.S.”

  1. I love how all you iSheep spout the fact that iPhone is only available on AT&T. The United States is NOT the only country in the world iDiots. For example, all the major carriers in Canada have iPhones for sale. It’s basically the same everywhere else too. Get that through your head.

  2. Seriously? why is anyone surprised at this? there are HOW MANY ANDROID PHONES? is it really any surprise to anyone that they have out sold them? That’s like comparing the iPhone sales to all of Motorola, or all of Sony. want to really impress? Only stick with ONE PHONE not the 50+ android phones that are on the market all into one category against ONE phone.

    • The “one” mentality will never last. Shame on steve jobs for manipulating the system and inhibiting fair competition. Apple has always been on low percentage of the worldmarket share. The iphone brought the company an opportunity to utilize monopolistic strategies. Much like the early days of microsoft. U won’t see apple devices lending its technology to the third world. Android reveals the true face of the iphone “loyal” user base. a direct illustration of the rebirthing and re-emerging social structure. “the Elitist”. All hail iphone! The peoples choice!

    • The “one” mentality will never last. Shame on steve jobs for manipulating the system and inhibiting fair competition. Apple has always been on low percentage of the worldmarket share. The iphone brought the company an oppurtunity to utilize monopilistic strategies. Much like the early days of microsoft. U won’t see apple devices lending its technology to the third world. Android reveals the true face of the iphone “loyal” user base. a direct illustration of the rebirthing and re-emerging social structure. “the Elitist”. All hail iphone! The peoples choice!

  3. Here are some things I would like to voice out. If I want to upgrade a android phone, it can happen 2 ways which is either OTA or via my computer with a force update. With an iphone you must use itunes, and most (not all) of the people I know who have iphones have issues. Most iphone users I know are dis satisfied with itunes and that process that is constantly failing. The most common problem with android phones is people just don’t know how to use them, or they are expecting an iphone like interface. Here is a breakdown of devices and descriptions…
    Ipod= music playing device with apps on touch screen versions
    Iphone = ipod + phone with apple approved apps (att is only company)
    Ipad = Bigger screen ipod
    Android phone = phone with open source market (its good and bad) and multiple phone manufacturers and companys.

    Apple innovates and makes it flashy so early adopters and people who can afford all of apples items and people that want apple products can be smug and uppity, everyone else figures out a cheaper and more efficient and way to provide the same content and function without the smugness.

    I see it this way…

    Toyota Prius + iphone + ipod + ipdad = smug and thinks they saving the world

    Hummer + android phone = person who is laughing at the prius owner who is currently doing more damage to the earth because they are using a huge battery from a contaminated mine that the material to make their battery came from.

    Wake up people. I sell electronics for a living. I had a boy come in who wanted an ipod touch. I asked him why he wanted an ipod touch. He said I don’t know, All my friends have one. Sound reasoning from a kid about 11. Even though he could have had a zune with 4 times as much storage for less.

  4. “The reason is simple: this article, like many others is based on a false premise — that you can compare a phone to an OS. The iPhone is a phone, Android is an OS. Apple’s iPhone OS is iOS.

    iOS devices, namely iPhone + iPod Touch + iPad sell at 2 -3 times the rate of even the most inflated Android statistics. Thus, iOS usage share is growing faster.

    You have two choices either compare Android to iOS, or compare iPhone to say Motorola Droid. Don’t come up with phony baloney comparisons for the sole purpose of making Android look good.”

    I can name 20 people that switched from iphone to android. Developers are going to target android. BECAUSE ITS FREE TO MAKE APPS FOR ANDROID. Apple charges you to make apps. As a developer i will not ever make iphone apps unless i HAVE to. Android app store is growing faster than iphones did. Soon android will leave it in the dust unless apple loosens the reins.

  5. Denny Hayes

    The reason that the Android is now outselling the iPhone is pretty obvious. It’s simply because Apple has run out of iPhones to sell. My guess is that they are fixing the antenna problem, even though they said that the weren’t going to fix it. Anyone with a brain knew that they said that so that people would not stop buying them until the new one comes out. My guess is that the new one will be released soon, like maybe Christmas, and when it is released it will have additional new features that will knock the Android out of the running again. There are so many things that they could add to the iPhone, such as a pressure sensitive screen, LED projector, similar to what can be attached to the Android, but internal. There are endless feature options that already have available technology. They also might bring the features out with the White iPhone that they have been promising. They say that the white iPhone will be delayed again, and there is no way for the real reason to be because of the color of the case. They are delaying all iPhones until they solve the antenna problem and get the production running again.

    • I don’t care what anyone says. Android is taking over and apple needs to step it up. I love apple though. I love my macbook i’m using rite now to write this and I never want anything but apple when it comes to most things. I have worked with alot of iphones from 2g-4g, all ipads, and all the Touches. I make really good money too because Apple decided to make evrything so hard for the common user. Just to take the damn bettery out you have to take the whole phone apart. I get alot of business. screens, batteries, jailbrakes, unlocks, just about everything. Anyways. I am with T-mobile and was using my 3gs with them untill I got tierd of the poor battery life and well….I dont know. I bought a Samsung Vibrant Galaxy S and WOW! This phone is amazing. I can make free video calls that are flawless, free texts and calls with my number, the living backgrounds are amazing and the screen is way bigger but they kept the phone very small and slim. Oh and the 5mp camera is great too. Like i said before I love apple/Mac but this phone has all others I’ve messed with beat.

  6. Osama Al-borbar

    Percentage of what current owners want next:
    46% iPhone
    33% Android
    16% BP
    15% Others
    Apparently iPhone is the “most-wanted” in the coming period, but Android as a new player is forwarding fast and can in no time become the next “most wanted”.

  7. All of this talk of one OS vs another is just a lot of bull, because the average user doesn’t know one from the other. All they known is that on the iPhone what you see is twice as sharp as any of the competition and you can see the person who you are talking to on the screen. Plus the massive number of available apps is way ahead of the other smart phones. And the real tele tail is that the iPhone is still selling so fast that neither the Apple store nor the AT&T store can keep up. It has been out for a while and the wait is still a month out, where you can walk into the stores selling the competition and buy two for the price of one today. Doesn’t that alone tell you something?

  8. abichuelo

    Do we really need all this technology? what ever happened to a cell phone just in case of an emergency? We’re paying way too much and becoming obsessed with connectivity!!!! and carriers are taking us for a ride with their crazy rates and ever-increasing new gadgets.

  9. Juniper

    I’m not too sure of what Android is, but definitely have seen the Iphone. I heard that TracFone now has the Samsung Finesse from which is a Smartphone. It’s actually the first of its type offered with any prepaid plan, but I really haven’t read much about it. I’ve been a TracFone client for some years and have been just fine with the phones they offer – really great quality and not too many bells and whistles. Their plans are very affordable and the service, which is through Verizon is perfect. So, I ask… why should anyone that’s happy with a regular phone make the switch to a Smartphone? Forgive me for not being too smart, but what is the big deal What am I missing that I just have to get despite the high cost of buying and maintaining these phones. For now, I’m sticking to my regular run-of-the-mill TracFone prepaid phone.

  10. I have seen this claim many times, including a thread here with many “amens”: It’s Apples to Oranges because iPhone is one phone and Android is many phones.

    Let’s think about this claim for a second. So…. because iPhone allows only one phone at a time, we should take just one model (say, Motorola Droid) from the Android group and compare it to the entirety of iOS, otherwise iOS gets to include iPad and iPhone Touch.

    The “multiple phone” claim goes for Blackberry and Symbian etc. These statistics have been kept for a long time and no one has every said Blackberry or Symbian has to be counted as separate devices, just because they offer choices. iOS just happens to be the only operating system that you can buy new on only a single phone-call-making device, but that doesn’t allow them to get to be arbitrarily compared to some model within the other operating system groups.
    Software is the relevant measure here and the analysis IS OS to OS within the smart phone market. This is a breakdown of smart phone market. iPad and iPod Touch cannot make phone calls, so you don’t get to include them. We could include all devices, which would include android-powered appliances, but that would be irrelevant to the smart phone market.

    Ultimately this argument comes down to the notion that android’s market share should be penalized for allowing hardware and network choices. Or, to put it another way, that iPhone should be specially rewarded in its statistics for offering a single device. Do you really think that an iPhone 4 versus just the Motorola Droid would be a comparison that anyone would take seriously or find remotely informative?

    If all competitors offer dozens of devices, even on the same networks, it would be quite difficult for any one of them to outpace the “device” share for an OS that has one device. Android has new devices every week that are cutting into the share of existing devices, but that obviously is not something that should be counted as a negative for android. Indeed it is one of the many reasons why people choose it.

    • Joseph Futral

      “Do you really think that an iPhone 4 versus just the Motorola Droid would be a comparison that anyone would take seriously or find remotely informative?”

      That’s part of the point. That the comparison would be no contest is what would make it so laughable. I’d certainly find it informative. It might give me a clue if any of these Android phone makers are worth investing in or not. Grouping all makers of Android based phones is the only hope they have of showing any health to the platform, but otherwise is largely pointless.

      I’ll say this again, Google does not sell Android. Handset makers make devices that use Android, but they don’t sell the Android OS, they sell devices that run the Android OS. Motorola can sell a variety of devices that run Android, just like Blackberry does with their own OS. But even Blackberry is singled out. Why not Motorola?

      But the Android OS, itself, has no market except that handset makers put it on phones. Android is a B2B product/service. At this point, only handsets with an OS are retail products. Android has consumer market appeal, but it is only as good as the device it is put on. And that is controllable/controlled by the handset makers, not Google (back room agreements not-withstanding).

      This is not about penalizing or rewarding. This is about honest market analysis and the charts don’t show that, although they do a better job than the article. This should be platform compared to platform. Android does not offer a platform, they offer an OS for others to build a platform. This is different even from Microsoft. Microsoft at least sold the OS separately.

      And tangentially, not that this is your argument one way or the other, we really couldn’t be having this discussion if not for Apple and the iPhone. If early prototypes are to be believed, this would be Android/Blackberry look/work-alike vs. Blackberry. That actually would have been harder for Google since everyone already had their Blackberry alternatives or probably didn’t care all that much about that market anyway, much less the consumer smartphone market over all.


      • sxeptomaniac

        Google may not be selling the OS, but it is offered separately, and people have installed Android on devices not originally built for it. Nevertheless, market penetration of the OS, as well as expected loyalty, are valuable statistics to app developers, and by extension, good news for handset owners whose preferred OS is doing well. I want to see more good-quality apps I can use developed for my Android phone, and these statistics say there’s good reason to believe it will happen. Fanboys on either side can spin the information in all kinds of ridiculous ways, but it doesn’t change the fact that there are real, non-ego-driven reasons for me to be glad at what those statistics show.

        So yes, it is fair to compare Android and iOS for many of the same reasons it’s fair to compare Windows and Mac OS.

      • Joseph Futral

        “So yes, it is fair to compare Android and iOS for many of the same reasons it’s fair to compare Windows and Mac OS.”

        Except there is an additional party involved that did not exist in the WinOS/MacOS scenario—the cell phone carriers! (and probably why Apple went with just ATT and only one carrier where ever they could, just way simpler to deal with). If the talks between Google and Verizon that have recently hit the headlines has any validity—wow! Developers thought they had to worry about Android fragmentation now, this is potentially exponentially more complicated. (Imagine the headlines if Apple had been caught doing this).

        Yeah, early fragmentation aside (I believe only three handsets currently can run or are set to run Froyo, but I could be wrong about that), Android is definitely in a better position than either Rim or Nokia with regard to app productivity.


  11. Rob Marine

    You missed the real story here. Take another look at the Canalys data and you will see that the smartphone market grew by 63%, and that everyone except Google/Android grew by less than that. That means all the major players are ceding market share to Google. Given that trend and recent product releases by Apple, RIM and Google, it is reasonable to expect that trend to continue or even accelerate.

  12. So, ONE phone carried by ONE service provider is FINALLY being outsold by the combined sales of MANY phones carried by MULTIPLE providers. Gee, what news this is, but not for the reasons people seem to think …

    • Based on your lackluster reading comprehension, I’m going to assume you’re an iphone user.

      Go look at the sales graph again. Note the legend is comparing ‘Apple iphone OS’ and ‘Android OS’. This is an OS comparison for smartphones. The model is not being debated here, and is not mentioned in any graph.

      Let’s stick to the facts, mmkay?

      • Joseph Futral

        Except the first line of the article says “Sales of Google Android phones in the U.S. are rising so quickly, the devices have outsold Apple handsets for the first time on record.”

        And the OS charts are entirely within the framework of smart phones. If it was strictly OS, as others have pointed out, then iPad and iPod Touch devices should be counted as well.

        Which kind of gets back to a point that has been made, too, that this is insignificant research (or at least this article’s assessment of the research is insignificant) since there is no iPhone without the iOS and there is no Blackberry without the BB OS, but there is no (longer) such a thing as a Google Android phone. There is an HTC Android phone. A Motorola “Droid”. How do those numbers stack up against iPhone or Blackberry? Or even Nokia?

        So, then, is the article misrepresenting the charts?

        Or does it just chap your hide that more Android OS “owners” want an iPhone next than iPhone owners who want an Android phone next? And if Android is doing as well as some here think, then that is no insignificant number.

        And if the Android platform is open, is it even possible to put an OS on the Android phones other than Android? Just curious. Let’s say I like the Evo hardware (and I actually do), but I might prefer Windows phone (which has some great potential). Could I put that on the HTC hardware instead? How truly open is Android?


      • Please go check again. The chart is smartphone OS. You then mentioned non smartphones that ‘should be counted’. This is bullshit, and I’m pretty sure you’re aware of this. Please go look at the graph again.

        The graph is not counting non-smartphones. Please understand this, and stop trying the same dishonest argument that Ted has been pushing.

        Yes, the article is full of bias and spin. Which is why I’m not talking about the article. I am talking about raw stats, and what the graph is representing. This data, in this chart, is OS installation on smartphones.

        We are NOT talking about ipads. we are NOT talking about iphones. we are NOT talking about anything other than smartphones, and which OS they are running. I understand the desire of apple fans to attempt to spin this by either subdividing the android numbers into handsets (while treating multiple versions of the iphone as a single class, lol), or adding non-phones into the iOS category.

        Those are two very dishonest tactics that really have no place here. Go look for handset charts if you’re so inclined, and start a discussion there. This isn’t the place for it. We’re not talking hardware.

        I have no idea if it is possible to install another OS instead of Android. I’ve never tried, and I can’t think of another one I would want (or another one, period). I certainly don’t want any existing version of WinMo (I haven’t played with the new one, so I can’t comment on it).

        Android starts open, and gets whittled away by the companies pushing the hardware. The DroidX, from what I can tell, is locked down even more than the iphone, so calling that ‘open’ is a joke. Meanwhile, my phone runs Python, which means more to me than having an Apple on the back of the phone.

        When my phone provider is terrified of the idea of me running scripts on the phone because it allows ‘programs’ to run, which prevents people from being routed through the app store, then I have a problem. That is not open at all. With Android I can scan a barcode anywhere and install an app, without going through any middleman. So very clearly, in at least this aspect, Android is ‘open’. The Android source code is also freely available to modify as one sees fit. This is also ‘open’.

        And to top it off, the graph presented is such limited scope that it hardly paints even a significant part of the entire picture. Sure, Android may have surged ahead in sales in this 6 month span, but Apple has fewer releases and a longer development cycle, so a 6 month cycle is never going to look the same as the next 6 month cycle. Android is gaining momentum, while Apple is based on massive spikes.

        It’s all bullshit, this whole thing, and I understand that it’s bullshit. Frankly, I don’t give a shit about this article, but the way apple fanboys act like fucking retards when shit goes down is ridiculous. Watching people say ‘well, they should be counting the ipod then!’ makes me wonder how intellectually dishonest (or perhaps just stunted?) people have to be to make such ridiculous claims.

      • sxeptomaniac

        Well, I do see the point that iPod Touch and iPad sales should count towards iOS sales. It doesn’t invalidate the statistics above, but it is an important caveat.

      • sxeptomaniac

        Whether they make calls isn’t the issue. They run iOS, thus making them part of the same app platform (thus a valuable consideration for app developers in particular). Again, taking that into account does not invalidate the statistics, but it is worth noting that iOS has a market beyond phones that those statistics were not intended to include.

    • sxeptomaniac

      You’re spinning. If these were just phones, then you would be correct in downplaying the statistics, but that is not the case. Android is an OS, just as iOS is. The difference is that an OS runs programs (of course, they call them apps in this context, but terminology isn’t as important as the concept). As Android increases market share, it becomes increasingly profitable for app developers to target Android.

      All other things assumed to be equal for the moment, the statistics show that app developers should probably be looking to go multi-platform, or cross-platform, if they haven’t already.

      Other than that, it’s just a pissing contest for the fanboys.

      Personally, I’m cheering on the contest, as I like the products to come out of it so far. I’m glad my own personal preference is flourishing, but would prefer it not overwhelm competitors, either. Monopolies, even by “open” platforms, are unlikely to be good for the consumer.