Some 57 percent of U.S. smartphone buyers picked an Android handset for the first time, compared with 34 percent who chose an iPhone, according to NPD Group.
Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) is the world's top-selling
smartphone, but more first-time smartphone buyers purchased a handset based on
Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android operating system, according to The NPD Group.
Android commanded 48 percent of the U.S. smartphone
market through the fourth quarter, compared with 43 percent for Apple's iPhone
4S, iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS.
However, 57 percent of first-time smartphone
buyers acquired an Android handset in Q4, compared with 34 percent who picked up
an iPhone. Samsung's Galaxy S II and Galaxy S 4G followed the iPhone models
among most popular handsets in the U.S.
"Android has been criticized for offering a more
complex user experience than its competitors, but the company's wide carrier
support and large app selection is appealing to new smartphone customers," NPD analyst Ross Rubin said in a statement Feb. 6
Rubin added that the slew of smartphones that run on
Verizon Wireless' 4G LTE (Long-Term Evolution) network also appealed to new
4G LTE had no bearing on Apple's path to smartphone
glory. Instead, the company's iPhone 4Sarmed with a speedier processor, 8
megapixel camera and Siri virtual assistantspurred sales of millions of units of that
"The iPhone 4S outsold the iPhone 4 by 75 percent,
and outsold the iPhone 3GS, available for free on AT&T, five to one,"
Rubin said. Apple sold 37 million iPhones total in Q4, helped by the iPhone 4S,
discounted iPhone 4 and 3GS and availability on Sprint for the first time.
Overall, NPD smartphones comprised 68 percent of the
total mobile handset market in Q4, an 18 percent climb from Q4 2010.
comScore's monthly mobile data was somewhat different. The researcher counted about 98 million smartphone users
in the U.S. through December, accounting for 40 percent of all U.S. mobile
users. ComScore also counted
Android at 47 percent share, with the iPhone grabbing
under 30 percent through December.