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After months of closing the gap with LG, Apple has moved into the second spot in comScore’s list of top mobile handset manufacturers, per the company’s latest MobiLens figures covering the 3-month average period ending in October 2012. For that period, Apple ranked second for the first time with 17.8% market share, up 1.5% points from the 3-month period ending in July. LG dropped 0.8% of its market share, to 17.6%.

Apple has been challenging LG for some time now. In the September figures, it sat just 0.2% points back from LG in mobile market share, while in the August figures, it was 1.1% points behind. Its second ranking in October culminates a trend that has continued for longer than a year: back in October 2011, it sat in the 4th spot at 10.8% market share, compared to 20.6% for LG.

Meanwhile, Samsung maintained its stranglehold on the top ranking, with 26.3% share during the October 2012 3-month average, up 0.7% points from the July average.

Apple Gains Among Growing Smartphone Audience

The percentage of mobile subscribers owning a smartphone continues to grow, reaching 51.9% for the 3-month average ending in October, after passing majority share for the first time the previous month. In the smartphone market, Google Android was the top platform once again, consolidating its top ranking by increasing its share by 1.4% points to 53.6%. Apple also gained, up 0.9% points from July, to 34.3%. Both grew at the expense of RIM (down 1.7% points to 7.8%); Microsoft (down 0.4% points to 3.2%); and Symbian (down 0.2% points to 0.6%).

Mobile Owners More Engaged in Various Activities

In October 2012, all forms of mobile content usage tracked by comScore showed higher rates of activity than in July 2012. For example, 75.9% of US mobile subscribers used text messaging on their mobile device, up 0.3% points from 75.6%. Downloaded applications were used by 54.5% of subscribers, up 1.9% points from the previous 3-month period. Browsers were also used by a majority, up 1.5% points to 52.7% of the mobile audience.

In addition, accessing of social networking sites or blogs increased 1.5% points, meaning that almost 4 in 10 mobile subscribers accessed social media from their devices. 34.1% played games (up 0.3% points), and 28.7% listened to music (up 0.4% points).

While comScore’s figures show downloading of apps to be more popular than browser use, recent survey results [pdf] from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project reveal different priorities. That is, among the cell phone owners surveyed, 56% reported accessing the internet, compared to 43% who said they download apps. (Methodology may be the culprit: comScore’s figures are for those aged 13 and older, while the Pew figures are for adults 18 and older.)

Pew found text messaging (80%) to be more popular than browser and app use, in line with the comScore figures, but taking a backseat to snapping a picture (82%), the most popular activity of those tracked.

Among the other Pew survey results: 50% send or receive email; 44% record video; 31% look for health or medical information online; and 29% check their bank account balance or do some form of online banking. Each activity was more prevalent among younger cell phone owners, and each has seen a steady rise in popularity over the past few years.

About the Data: MobiLens data is derived from an intelligent online survey of a nationally representative sample of mobile subscribers age 13 and older. Data on mobile phone usage refers to a respondent’s primary mobile phone and does not include data related to a respondent’s secondary device.

The Pew survey was conducted August 7-September 6, 2012. The sample size was 2,581 cell phone owning adults ages 18 and older. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish and on landline and cell phones (1,206 cell calls were completed). The data concerning video and app use is from the Spring tracking survey conducted March 15-April 3, with a sample size of 1,954 cell-phone owning adults aged 18 and older.

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