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Android Passes iPhone as Most Desired Smartphone. Barely

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Android has been outselling the iPhone, but Apple’s iPhone (s aapl) was still reportedly the most desired smartphone in the U.S. until recently, according to the Nielsen Co. Not anymore. Nielsen said 31.1 percent of respondents in March said they want their next smartphone to be an Android device, while 30 percent said they wanted an iPhone.

Nielsen said consumers planning on buying an Android in the next year increased from 25.5 percent in July to September while people planning on buying an iPhone slipped from 32.7 percent during the same period. That’s not terribly surprising considering the growing momentum behind Android. But it shows Android’s appeal is continuing to grow even despite the broader availability of the iPhone on Verizon (s vz).

Before, Android’s rise could have been chalked up to the iPhone’s limitatation to just one carrier. But it’s increasingly showing it’s attractive on its own, not just as a more accessible alternative to the iPhone. The iPhone is still limited in distribution, and opening availability to Sprint (s s) and T-Mobile could shift things somewhat. But at this point, it seems like Android appeal is rock-solid while the iPhone is cooling off somewhat with consumers.

The smartphone race looks more and more like a two-horse competition, according to Nielsen. Only 10.5 percent of consumers said they planned on buying a BlackBerry (s rim) device, down from 12.6 percent in July through September. Interest in Windows (s msft) devices also slipped from 6.8 percent last year to 6.4 percent this year, even with the launch of Windows Phone 7 in November.

Android continues to rule the smartphone marketshare battle with 37 percent, compared to 27 percent for the iPhone and 22 percent for BlackBerry. Recent statistics show how much momentum is behind Android. Fifty percent of people who purchased a smartphone in the past six months said they had chosen an Android device,while 25 percent said they had bought an iPhone, and 15 percent said they got a BlackBerry device.

Apple is still sucking down the biggest profits, and has become the largest phone vendor by revenue. And it still has a lead when you consider all iOS devices compared to Android. But Android’s momentum, especially in smartphones, is just getting stronger. If it can replicate that success in tablets, it won’t be long before it has a greater overall ecosystem reach soon.

46 Responses to “Android Passes iPhone as Most Desired Smartphone. Barely”

  1. Hamranhansenhansen

    I would be interested to know if the pollsters asked consumers about operating systems or about phones. Because my experience is that consumers don’t know anything about operating systems. Even an iPhone user won’t know what operating system their phone is running. Consumers don’t know what operating systems are, or even what Web browsers are.

    I could see if they asked consumers “what phone do you plan to purchase?” and they said “iPhone” or “Droid” or “EVO” or “Galaxy S” and then they took those numbers and broke them down by operating system by adding all the Droid and EVO and Galaxy S together, but that is a very different thing than 31% of consumers saying they “want Android.”

    But after all, it doesn’t matter. Market share is meaningless in a market where phones are given away free with contract. What matters is profitability (more than 50% goes to Apple) and developer support (more than 50% Apple) and app downloads and revenues (more than 50% Apple). Apple is just totally dominating mobile. Anyone who pretends otherwise has a horse in a non-Apple race, or doesn’t know what they are talking about.

    • Apple is in a huge problem. The biggest problem in the history of consumer electronics actually.

      Apple is a $322 Billion valuated company who’s only source of revenues and profits is the iPhone. And their marketshare for iPhone has been stuck at 25% for more than 15 months with all analysts predicting that the Apple marketshare is GOING DOWN.

      You’ve got sub-$100 Android Smartphones coming everywhere ON PREPAID, no more contracts anymore. Finished. Within a year, NOBODY is going to be signing up for stupid 2-year contracts for a phone when they can simply get a great phone for less than $100 in their local kiosk or super market and just use any random sub-$10/month data SIM card, pre-paid, no contract, and just use free unlimited Google Voice on that data-only SIM card.

      • You’re confusing market share with growth. Apple is growing by leaps and bounds in every category but iPods which are being displaced by other iOS devices. And, their biggest growth area is asia where they’ve just begun.

        Your theory certainly didn’t happen in feature phones. Even though there were really cheap phones, it didn’t hurt any of the majors in developed countries.

  2. Android smartphones are being sold for $87 unlocked soon enough all consumers will be buying unlocked super Android phones in every super market or at your local kiosk such as Wallgreens or CVS Pharmacy. All below $100 unlocked for pre-paid use, even for under $50 soon. Those cheap Android phones are just about as good as a Nexus One, with 3.5″ capacitive touch screens.

    Consumers overall don’t need to know what OS it’s running, which is why all the Smartphone newbies are buying Android, just as well as if you ask tech literates, if you ask true geeks such as here, more than 50% want Android and less than 25% still want iOS.

    But the truth is Android is selling much faster than 2x faster than iPhone.

  3. Check out the rest of the pie at

    The Nielsen data comparisons were between OSs, not phones. As of March,
    Android: 37%
    Apple iOS: 27%

    Market share comparing recent acquirers,
    Android: 50%
    Apple iOS: 25%

    Next desired OS,
    Android: 31% – an increase from 26% last September
    Apple iOS: 30% – a decrease from 33% last September

    For my own phone, a myTouch 3G, I can renew with another Android phone that has better credentials or wait and see if the rumored iPhone becomes available on T-Mobile. That’s a choice that should have been available from the start. AT&T could have avoided overloading its system; and consumers would have had a choice, something that stimulates improvement as well as sales.

    • Every single chart has a heading of “Smartphone”. So yes, they’re comparing all 100 android-based phones to the iPhone. Does this include the Chinese phones that are running a forked version of android? Should they even be considered android phones?

      But, it doesn’t really matter because Apple isn’t even competing with android. Who in their right mind wants to compete against a money losing commodity. All these surveys are comical. Everyone would have laughed if a survey compared a Mercedes or Porche with a Chevy Nova. Two entirely different things selling to entirely different audiences.

  4. This is a stupid poll. This is like saying those 50 guys can beat Bruce Lee. Yeah they can TOGETHER, but individually they get beat down with one punch. I really use to love my Droid X but recently switched to an iPhone 4. The best analogy I could use to describe the two is like going from a tricked out Toyota sedan to a Lexus sedan. The are ALMOST the same thing but you have to apply every upgrade available to the Toyota for the experience to be comparable.

      • I’m certain I didn’t miss the point. The very first sentence states “Android has been outselling the iPhone” That is comparison between an OS and a specific handset. Otherwise they should have said “Android is outselling iOS”. The inverse of this comparison would be to state “The iPad is outselling Android.” While technically its true, it not an accurate comparison. The question/statement is skewed so the poll is stupid.

      • @rob, they are not really comparing OS’s because if they are, then iOS definitely outsells Android. Don’t forget that iOS runs on iPod touch and iPads. When articles talks about Android having a larger market share than iPhone, they are only talking about Android phones and iPhone. If we are really talking about Android OS and iOS, then iOS has a much larger market share.

      • Hamranhansenhansen

        > You’re missing the point. They’re comparing OSes not handsets.

        No, you’re missing the point, which is to minimize Apple’s utter dominance of mobile with really questionable statistics.

        If you want to talk phones, then talk phones: iPhone outsells all the other phones. If you want to talk operating systems, then talk operating systems: the ranking is Symbian, iOS, Android, RIM. iOS outsells Android by 2:1. If you want to talk profits: Apple takes more than 50%. If you want to talk apps or app revenues: Apple has more than 50%.

        Android runs on like 100 devices; iOS runs on 4. Yes iOS still outsells Android by 2:1. So if you want to make Android look artificially good, you compare all 100 Android devices to just 1 iOS device. The idea that it is a fair comparison is ludicrous. The idea that it is informative is also ludicrous.

    • saltesc

      I just don’t see how you’re not understanding any of this.

      “I really use to love my Droid X but recently switched to an iPhone 4”

      Never mind.

      • That fact that I have owned both devices and used them for months mean that I can actually make a real comparison. I absolutely choose iOS on the iPhone 4. You can always tell when someone hasn’t owned an apple device because they are the ones that don’t get it. I have owned 3 android devices (Eris, Droid, Droid X) and I can state without a shadow of a doubt that Android may look pretty but under the sheets it is a mess. I found numerous bugs common across all 3 handsets: Dialing from contacts doesn’t always dial the person you selected, phone freezing after days of used (needed a hard reset), and very very poor battery life if you leave all 4 radios ON (cellular, wifi, GPS, bluetooth). Most of the people I know with the any low-end or premium Android device tell me they have the same problems or results. My iPhone 4 just works, with the best battery life of any smartphone I have owned and I have only had to hard reset it once and that because of an App not the OS. I used the MIFI on my Droid X and would get 2 hours of battery MAX. On my iPhone with MIFI I get at least 7 hours of constant use (with GPS and bluetooth ON). I don’t knock anyone’s purchase of Android but I know what I like. My money goes to Apple. I am not a mindless sheep, I prefer to spend my money on things that work so that I don’t have to spend it more than once or frequently.

    • iPhone only runs iOS right. Other Apple devices are not smartphones.
      Android OSes are built in into many devices. Now do the maths… There are more Android phones in the market than iOSes (iPhones).

      • raycote

        So you want to compare OSs but only when they run on a smartphone not OS to OS?

        Very selective but illogical criteria!

        If you compare the prevalence of iOS to Android then iOS wins hands down!
        If you compare the prevalence of physical phone models such as iPhone vs Samsung vs LG . . . . then iPhone wins hands down!

        Cross threading the comparison criteria may help you win your straw man argument but it changes nothing on the ground.

        Many of those Android phones are used as cheap prepaid phones like my wife’s and no one is going to make any money off of her smartphone usage!

    • Bruce Lee is not an ecosystem, he won’t cook you food, take out the trash, drive the taxi, teach the kids, run for office and replace broken windows. While the 50 guys can not only destroy Bruce Lee, they can also do all those things required of an ecosystem. You will find that Bruce Lee is a pretty boring guy to live with, he is so self centered and egoist that he’s not going to let you do what you want.

      • ????????? Android doesn’t cook food, drive a taxi, or teach kids, or any of that other strange stuff you stated. It is not some perfect platform for running the world. Since you didn’t like Bruce Lee I will use a different analogy.

        If this were Star Trek and Android was used to run the Enterprise. I would definitely stay on Earth. You would run out of power halfway to your destination and when you try to call for help the computer would probably call the Klingons instead of Star Fleet.

  5. MacGirlie

    I wonder how many of the Android OS purchasers are happy with their phone experience afterward? I like both Android and iPhone OSes, but for different reasons. If you like to tinker and ‘mod’ your phone, or get down to a the nitty gritty of how you want things to work, Android is your friend. If you just want to be connected to the web, facebook, twitter and run apps, iPhones are much easier to use. I have (non-techy) friends that love some of the features of their ‘Droid, BUT dislike the overall experience. When I’ve tried to help them, I’ve found the OS to be unintuitive and difficult to sort out (and I like to tinker).

    They’re both cool- but the user really has to know in advance what they’re willing to invest in managing their device before making a purchase. No point in buying a slick looking device you hate to use.

    • No. If you just want to browse , do facebook and twitter and copy music and other file yto yuor phone with ease just like you do with a thumbdrive and in general use the phone without ever having to need another PC or that bloatware called iTunes to “sync” you phone, “activate” your device etc, Android runs circles around Iphone in terms of simplicity.

      Also I like that my apps and contacts are auto stored in the web and synced 2 ways.So much convenient.

    • That’s such an old argument.

      If my impatient, technologically incompetent, iPhone obsessed girlfriend can work an Android like superfly from the get go but you find it to be “unintuitive and difficult to sort out”, you either haven’t touched one in a very long time or you’re really, really special. She’s been iTrained on her 3GS for almost 2 years but picked up my N1 a couple of times when her battery was dead. Since then she uses my phone A LOT because “it’s just easier.”

      Actually, now she gets scarily hostile toward her iPhone because it’s “fucking useless”, even though she’s adored that thing for so long. So, iPhone user tip: Don’t play around with Android too much if you’re still in an iPhone contract.

      • Then Jared, you have a unique girlfriend. Everyone I know – and I mean “everyone” – that bought a Droid because they wanted to stay on Verizon pisses and moans about it on a daily basis. It’s become a running joke. Even the geek that talked them into it complains.

      • I know these posts are for technically minded persons and professionals. But I just want to say that I am just an average everyday lady who is definitely no geek. I love my Droid X. I had the chance of an iPhone , but had no problem choosing the Droid X. It has a 4.3 inch screen , and not difficult to use whatsoever for me. The application store has more than enough apps. I love Google and am not confined in Steve Jobs walled garden. I have no regrets. I will always choose an android phone as long as one is made.

  6. I’m not sure that it is a two-horse competition just yet, especially with that growing number of undecided buyers. Opportunities still exist, but at this point, I think the real challenge is competing with Google’s free mobile OS model.

    • Ryan Kim

      Yep, it’s still early and who knows how things will turn out in a few years. But free is hard to compete with. Still, if Android can jump out on top in such a short amount of time, I wonder if the market can shift again quickly with new innovations, interfaces. We’ll have to see.

      • Well benperman, those questions really don’t explain much. Very few non-geeks would even know about app store approval processes. It doesn’t tell us much when the sales person talks them into something else – Here in the U.S. that would be a natural occurance in a Verizon shop before they got the phone. It does point out how most polls are questionable at best unless you know the details of the poll and the exact wording of questions etc.

    • Hamranhansenhansen

      The real challenge is for Android handset makers to stay in business when all of them combined make less than 10% of Apple’s profits.

      • Exactly. And, as Google struggles to regain control of android because of the fragmentation what are they going to do to differentiate themselves? I’m betting they fork android as some have in China and carry on without Google. There’s nothing in it for them if they’re just another commodity manufacturer.

      • In a world of sub-$100 Android smartphones, the real challenge is for Apple to stay in business when more than 50% of their revenues comes from the iPhone and when more than 75% of their profits comes from the iPhone.

  7. Android is not a Phone! It is an Operating System developed by The Physical iPhone still outsells any single phone on the market that has the Android Operating system on it.

      • I don’t know if your statement is accurate but yes it does matter. You see, tech pundits and many bloggers often write about market share as if that were success itself. Well, they have mixed up the sign for the real thing. Yes, Market share can be a sign of success buy it isn’t necessarily so. Macs never had a large Market share and yet in the last decade they have been very very successful and high revenue profit making for Apple. The lesson here is to know that might does not equal success. Size does not equal success. They can be indicators of success but are not success itself. Its like saying when you have a fever you must have a virus infection. Well, fever can be a sign of virus infection but it is not necessarily indicative of having one. Fevers can indicate many other things.

    • Captain Obvious

      Hi 2UpDuc, how are you? I couldn’t help notice you may need my assistance.

      First of all, you are right; Android is not a phone and it is an operating system—although actually developed by the Google company and not the URL for their search engine you mentioned.

      But what you are somehow failing to see is that these statistics are also referring to the Apple operating system (iOS) and its use specifically on smartphones a.k.a. the iPhone family. In other words, 31.1% of the people surveyed would rather their smartphones to be running Android whereas only 30% would prefer their smartphones running on iOS i.e. be iPhones.

      But there is of course a factor we must consider. Some people may decide on smartphones with consideration of the operating system oddly being minor. In this scenario, some people may find an iPhone’s buttons and hardware to be better than any of the Android devices. But with consideration to the iPhone 4’s notorious hardware issues and the increasingly more powerful and advanced range of hi-end Androids, it’s hard to imagine this plays into any factor.

      So you see? The actual phone is not the issue here. We are talking any smartphone in general and whether it is an iOS smartphone or an Android smartphone.

      Your friend,
      Captain Obvious

      • Hamranhansenhansen

        I very, very much doubt that 31% said they want their phone to be running Android. They almost certainly said they wanted to buy a Droid or an EVO or Galaxy S and the pollsters just combined those together. People don’t typically even know what OS their current phone is running, let alone one they are thinking of purchasing.