Blog Post

IPhone breathing down neck of Android in U.S.

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

The iPhone 4S, along with cheaper older models, has helped Apple (s aapl) close the distance on Google’s Android,(s goog) drawing within a few percentage points in recent smartphone sales market share in the U.S., according to the NPD Group. In a CES telecom fact sheet, the research firm said that iOS has zoomed up to 43 percent of sales in October and November, compared with 26 percent in the third quarter. Meanwhile, Android’s share dropped from a high of 60 percent in the third quarter to 47 percent in October and November.

The results affirm again that Android and iOS are in a two-horse race that has gotten tighter with the release of the iPhone 4S. It’s unclear how many phones Apple sold in the final quarter of 2011, but some estimates are coming in as high as 35 million units. NPD said that Apple held the top three spots in device sales, with the iPhone 4S, iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS leading the way, ahead of the Samsung Galaxy S II 4G, the Samsung Galaxy S and the HTC Inspire 4G.

Research In Motion (s rimm) continued its downward trend, with the BlackBerry OS’ falling from 8 percent in the third quarter to 6 percent in October and November. No other operating system emerged to challenge the big two at the end of last year.

NPD also said that two out of every three phones sold in October and November were smartphones, up from 59 percent in the third quarter. The market for basic phones has dwindled to just 15 percent, while messaging phones represented 18 percent of sales. The results show that the cell phone market is fast becoming a smartphone market and the appetite for “dumb phones” is evaporating. The push toward smartphones is helping Google, Apple and Samsung, which are benefiting from the desire of consumers to carry mobile computers in their pockets.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Banamine

27 Responses to “IPhone breathing down neck of Android in U.S.”

  1. Is there really such desperation to show positive iOS growth that market researchers must choose an arbitrary 2 month period coinciding with the only iPhone product launch in the last 500 days as well as the dead zone between announcement and release of two highly anticipated android phones?

    • Daniael

      fantastic point!
      and definitely, they should be desperate, no innovation left, nothing to come, no options, just overpriced old stuff, very interesting how they will crash again, just like the first time, for a very similar reason

  2. Anthony Johnson

    Always, wait till ” insert android device” this will be the Idevice killer. How long do we have to wait. Now it’s ics that every ihater is holdin their breath for , and now because of ics ,look what they really think about previous os, it’s pretty sad

  3. Turley Muller

    Well, the 4.2M iPhones at Verizon were certainly near 100% new activations. Sprint probably did 2M iPhones, all which would be new. AT&T probably did more than Sprint and Verizon combined, with vast majority being iPhone upgrades.

    So iPhone benefited from immense customer loyalty AND expanding to new carriers- Verizon ($99 IP4) and Sprint.

      • Andre Richards

        It would also require that someone starts shipping phones with 4.0 actually on them. I can’t believe there are still “new” Android phones for sale with 2.2.

    • David Juliano

      I am one that is waiting for an ICS phone. I am willing to bet the farm that the marjority of iphone sales were to apple lemmings that already had iphone 3. Large sales does not equal increased marketshare. Wait until the next market share report and you will see that apple’s overall marketshare has not grown despite alleged huge sales. How do you explain that? Simple, apple marketshare is saturated and it is the lemmings that have to have the latest apple product but not the greatest phones. With the advent of quad core android phone’s next month, apple will be further behind.

      That brings me to another interesting point. I post all the time about how android phones are faster, better UI, etc (which we all know is true) but apple zealots will say “apple hasn’t gone to dual core or quad core because the cpu doesn’t matter”. That is apple talk nonsense just because they did not have dual core. Now that 4s is dual core they say “the android quadcore won’t matter, dual core is fast enough” which is apple talk nonsense only because they don’t have a quadcore phone. Once apple updates to quadcore phone in 2013??? android will be on 8 core or greater and apple will then say “quad core is great, who needs 8 core”. Now that apple is consistently running a year behind minimum in technology, they keep trying to downplay advanced hardware until they actually use it, then all of a sudden their’s is better. What a joke apple has become.

      • Chris L

        Wow, you Android fanboys sure are a delusional bunch. It doesn’t matter WHY a phone was purchased. Ask any of the manufacturers – THEY don’t care what you do with it. They get their money for it regardless.
        Oh, and good luck all you Android fanatics with getting ICS. By the time most Android phones get ICS, if at all, Google will have released the NEWEST new version of Android. Then the Android fanatics will salivate over THAT version, and complain endlessly that their carrier won’t update their phones.

      • > I am willing to bet the farm that the marjority of iphone sales were to apple lemmings that already had iphone 3

        Your not one of those android lemmings that already has an android phone are you? What a joke that would be!

      • You are a moron and more likely a Samsung or google employee. The iPhone is great so is the Samsung phones. People will buy based on what thy view as the better product. No one cares that android as a whole had larger market. None cares what our opinion is.

      • MySchizoBuddy

        the numbers by NPD ARE for marketshare not sales jump. So Apple has 43% ACTUAL marketshare. You wrote an entirely stupid rant over the premise that these are sales jump numbers.

      • Andre Richards

        I get the distinct feeling you don’t understand the difference between market share and user base. If you did, you’d realize that your first few sentences don’t actually make any sense.

      • @Chris L
        “It doesn’t matter WHY a phone was purchased.”
        Actually in this case the difference between a new user and one upgrading makes great difference to the size of the market for potential app purchasers. (e.g. how many iPhone upgraders do you think will repurchase all the apps they already bought?)

  4. The Gnome

    Pretty dang good for one company to keep up with the zillion every-day and cheap Androids that come out. Still, quality vs. quantity… I’ll take the best phone over the one you can buy 2 x .01 at K-Mart anyday.

    • Walabee

      I wouldn’t call the Samsung Galaxy S2 K-Mart quality. If anything it lacks Android 4.0 until this month or next but physically it’s better in reviews then the S4.

  5. Kinchas

    Apple certainly had a strong quarter….but one swallow doesn’t make a summer. A surge in sales around the release of the new iPhone is to be expected. What these sales numbers don’t tells us….is how many are new activations. With the assumed loyalty of iPhone owners…the 4s should have been the benefactor of a lot of 3gs owners…ready for an update.

    • Douglas Ford

      I agree with @GreatBigDog on this one, these numbers only matter really if the increase in number sold was new smartphone subscribers vs replacing old models.

    • Andre Richards

      There’s no way to know for sure but these numbers bear out what was shown in the ChangeWave surveys from a year ago. The surveys showed that about a 27% of Android owners were planning to buy an iPhone next and about 5% of iPhone users were planning switch to Android. I suspect Android is good at grabbing first-time smartphone buyers but very bad at retaining them as customers. Anecdotally, I know more Android users planning to buy an iPhone than the other way around.

      • Indeed “no way back when you go Mac” is also a trend for iOS. I think that users are lured to android because here in Europe all the Android Devices are free with a contract, for an iPhone you still have to pay a fee, and the contract (more expensive too) to buy one. But the users are not dumb of course they will switch to iPhone in the future.
        The quality of the display, a mature app Store far more advanced and attractive, alll the apps are native. Rather to use a segmented app Market, for a cheap plastic device, with non-retina displays and a buggy and unsecure OS, the choice is clear when they realize that “you pay peanuts, you get monkeys”

      • @Matt I see another butt hurt fanboy reply here. You precious iPhone only costs 184$ to make vs 190$ galaxy Nexus. So do you really think you pay for premium parts? Samsung and LG makes most parts of the iPhone. With ICS android has surpassed iOS in every way possible. Let’s see the Apple maintain this market share in Q1 and Q2 of 2012 when there is no new iPhone and tons of new 4G Android handsets. non-retina Displays? man really? the Galaxy nexus has a 4.6 inch “retina display”. Do some research before you open your mouth. “you pay 2x more for peanuts in a fancy package” haha

    • So you want to know installed base?

      This is important for app developers. But even if we could find out that information, it still leaves – how many Android phones have a) active data plans, b) capability to run the most recent OS/Apps and how many of those iOS or Android devices sold are still on-network (ie not sold for black market export)?