Nielsen: As U.S. Nears Smartphone Majority, It’s A Two-Horse Race Between Android and Apple’s iOS
New numbers out from Nielsen today point to just how close the U.S. is to having more smartphone than feature phone users: the proportion that currently owns a smartphone, as of February 2012, is 49.7 percent, say the analysts, a big leap on the 36 percent who owned smartphones a year ago. But with devices like the iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy SII accounting for two-thirds of all recent purchases, it looks that number may well pass the 50-percent mark this month.
What’s increasingly clear in that growth is that, at least in the U.S., no other platform has proven (yet) to be a contender against Apple and Google’s Android.
Currently, Android accounts for 48 percent of all smartphones owned in the U.S., and Apple 32 percent. Both of those shares have grown: in September 2011, Nielsen said that Android’s share was 40 percent and Apple’s 28 percent.
When it comes to smartphones that are getting bought, the power of those two platforms is even stronger. In the last three months, Android accounted (again) for 48 percent of all handsets purchased, while Apple accounted for 43 percent. These were at the expense of Blackberry, now down to just five percent of handsets bought, and the rest of the other platforms, which Nielsen used to break out separately but now just counts as “others.”
The big question for Microsoft/Nokia is whether it will have what it takes to break out as a separate item again here. And the big question for RIM is whether it has what it takes to keep from becoming just “another platform” in the “other” category.
While Android and Apple have cornered the market for purchases so far, there is still 50.3 (!) percent of the market to play for, according to Nielsen’s figures. That’s still a lot of consumers, but most likely targeting a different kind of consumer from those that have bought handsets already.