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Click chart to enlarge. Source: Nielsen.
The signature smartphone sales trend over the past 18 months has been Google Android-based phones catching up with Apple’s iPhone, then pulling further and further ahead.
But Nielsen’s latest smartphone survey – of 25,000 adults in the US – suggests Apple has reversed the trend, and started to catch up with Android.
The new Nielsen data suggests strong sales for the new iPhone 4S (Apple has yet to release sales figures for the last quarter).
Additionally, Apple added a new carrier in the US (Sprint) at the time it released the 4S – mirroring the situation in New Zealand where long-time exclusive Apple carrier Vodafone was joined by Telecom.
Of all existing smartphone users in the fourth quarter of last year, Nielsen found the following market share:
- Google Android: 46.3% (up from 43% in the third quarter)
- Apple iPhone: 30% (up from 28%)
- RIM BlackBerry: 14.9% (18%)
- Microsoft Windows Mobile: 4.6%* [excludes Windows Phone 7 handsets, which had 1.3% share] (7%)
The numbers gel with the latest survey from ComScore – a research company that tracks which smartphone software is being used to access major websites. ComScore’s November 2011 results:
- Google Android: 46.9% (up from 43.8% in August)
- Apple iPhone: 28.7% (27.3%)
- RIM BlackBerry: 16.6% (19.7%)
- Microsoft Windows: 5.2% (5.7%)
- Nokia Symbian: 1.5% (1.8%)
Click chart to enlarge. Source: Nielsen
But of those who had bought a smartphone in the last three months, the Android-iPhone gap was tighter, reflecting the sales bump from the iPhone 4S.
The survey found 44.5% bought an iPhone in the December quarter, up from just 25.1% in the October quarter survey of new buyers. (Most of those Apple buyers - 57%- bought the new 4S. Android's share of new buyers slipped from 48.7% to 46.9% (see chart above).
Total market expanding
Nielsen also found the total smartphone market expanding. 46% owned a smartphone, up from 43% in its previous survey. Of those had bought a cellphone over the past three months, 60% had chosen a smartphone such as an iPhone, Android or BlackBerry.
Adoption was highest in the 25 to 34-year-old age group, in which smartphone ownership has reached 62%.
Again, the figures mirror the situation in New Zealand. Vodafone recently told NBR that 66% of its handset sales are now smartphones; 2degrees that smartphone now accounted for 60% of its range. And IDC recently reported strong NZ smartphone shipments for 2011.
IDC found that of 310,000 cellphones shipped in New Zealand over the third quarter of last year, smartphones accounted for 58%.