Android had bragging rights for much of 2011, as consumers, without a new iPhone, increasingly turned to it. December figures, however, tell a new story.
The Apple iPhone 4S'
, significantly affected the Apple vs. Android game, Nielsen
reported in a Jan. 18 blog post showing fourth-quarter 2011 smartphone purchase
Android had quite a proud
moment in October, when Nielsen reported that, in the previous three months,
61.1 percent of recent smartphone acquirers had chosen an Android smartphone,
compared with the 25.1 percent who purchased an Apple iPhone. After
considerable delay, however, the iPhone 4S-expected to be an iPhone 5,
frankly-went on sale in October. In a similar December poll, however, Nielsen
found the playing field more leveled, with 44.5 percent of buyers having chosen
an iPhone while 46.9 percent purchased an Android-running smartphone.
Among those consumers who
bought an iPhone in the three months leading up to December, 57 percent
purchased the iPhone 4S.
BlackBerry handsets from
Research In Motion, meanwhile, were purchased by 7.7 percent of those surveyed
in October and by 4.5 percent in December.
Despite the Apple comeback,
the game goes to Android, whose overall market share during the fourth quarter
was 46.3 percent, compared with 30 percent by Apple, 14.9 percent by BlackBerry
and 4.6 percent by Windows Mobile. Hewlett-Packard's webOS managed to grab a
1.4 percent share, as did the all-but-extinct Symbian from Nokia. Windows Phone
brought up the rear with 1.3 percent, though it will, no doubt, climb a few
rungs in 2012-if not jiggle all the numbers a bit-once the duo of Nokia and
Microsoft begin releasing devices in earnest, which is something they
say will happen "soon."
All the above also helped to
grow the overall number of U.S. mobile consumers now toting smartphones. In the
December survey, 60 percent of consumers who said they'd purchased a new device
in the last three months chose a smartphone, bringing the total of U.S. users
to 46 percent.
In September, Nielsen
reported that-in smartphones, as in politics-it's these new adopters, who are
open to considerations and more easily swayed than upgraders, who are a major
focus for manufacturers.
"Among those who say
they are likely to get a new smartphone in the next year, approximately
one-third say they want their next smartphone to be an iPhone and one-third say
they want an Android device," wrote Nielsen's Don Kellogg, director of
telecom research and insights. "However, among those who say they are
usually the first to embrace new technologies, 'Innovators,' or the earliest of
early adopters, Android leads as the 'Next Desired' Operating System-40 percent
for Android, compared to 32 percent for iOS."
Among those manufacturers
courting feature-phone converts is Samsung, which this week announced that it will
pair its in-house Bada platform with Intel's Tizen
"Bada will turn
Samsung's conventional customers into smartphone users by providing
cost-effective smartphones," Samsung announced in its early introduction
of Bada. "This means that Bada will open and extend a new smartphone
market, which does not exist in the current mobile market."
Arguably more so than Apple,
HTC and Motorola have likewise been courting the feature-phone set. HTC and
Motorola offer a variety of Android-running phones, including lower-cost units.