Apple, Android, RIM in Tight Struggle to Lead Smartphone Market

January 4, 2011

nielsen-smartphone-os-jun-nov-jan11.gifThe race for the lead in US smartphone operating system (OS) consumer market share is tighter than it has ever been, according to November 2010 data from The Nielsen Company. Nielsen research indicates the popularity of the Android OS among those who purchased a smartphone in the last six months (41%) makes it the leading OS among recent acquirers, while Apple iOS retains a slim lead in overall market share.

Android Surges among Recent Acquirers

As mentioned above, Android captured a roughly 41% share of Americans who had acquired a smartphone in the last six months in November 2010, well ahead of number two Apple iOS (about 27%). Both of these OS platforms grew in popularity among this demographic from June 2010 (27.5% and 21%, respectively).

In contrast, RIM Blackberry lost close to half its formerly leading share of recent acquirers in that same time period. While 35% of recent smartphone acquirers used the RIM Blackberry OS in June 2010, only about 19% did in November 2010, placing it a distant third.

Race for Overall Share Tightens

nielsen-smartphone-os-share-jun-nov-jan11.gifDespite its surge among recent acquirers, when it comes to overall consumer market share, Android OS (about 26%) is still behind Apple iOS (close to 29%). RIM Blackberry’s position is less clear. Its share (also about 26%) puts it within the margin of error of both Apple iOS and Android. In other words, RIM remains statistically tied with both Apple for first and Android for third. Apple’s clear lead over Android notwithstanding, Nielsen says this race might still be too close to call.

However, RIM Blackberry has lost its clear number one position in June 2010 (34%), while Android has gained more than 50% market share from 15% in the same time period.

More than 4 in 10 Recent Acquirers Choose Smartphones

nielsen-recent-v-total-smartphone-jun-nov-jan11.gifAll three smartphone OS leaders, Apple iOS, RIM Blackberry and Android, are benefiting from strong demand for smartphones. In November, 45% of recent acquirers chose a smartphone over a feature phone, while 31% of all consumers owned a smartphone.

Growth in smartphone ownership among both overall consumers and recent acquirers grew briskly from June to August 2010 and then moderated between September and November 2010.

Android Top New Smartphone App Platform

A leading 29% of smartphone application publishers say they will begin supporting the Android platform next year, according to the Millennial Media November 2010 Mobile Mix report. This outdistances the second-most-popular new smartphone app platform for next year, iPad (20%), by a healthy margin. Twenty percent of smartphone app publishers also plan to begin supporting Windows Phone7 next year. No other platform has anywhere close to this level of planned new support, with RIM coming in a distant fourth (12%).


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