Apple iOS Maintains Lead Among U.S. Smartphone Sales

Apple's rival platform, Google Android, has remained stable in comparison to the same period the year before, with 44.8 percent market share.

Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS continues to lead as the top-selling smartphone platform sold in the United States, with 51.2 percent of market sales for the 12-week period ending Dec. 23, 2012, according to data released by consumer research mobile phone panel Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.

Apple’s rival platform, Android, has remained stable in comparison to the same period the year before, with 44.8 percent compared to 2011’s 44.2 percent market share. Meanwhile, Microsoft’s Windows mobile platform remained in third place at 2.6 percent of smartphones sold in the 12 weeks to December period. BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) landed in fourth place with 1.1 percent market share.

“Apple’s continual improvement is thanks to both the iPhone 5 and older models attracting various customer groups, from repeat Apple buyers, first-time smartphone buyers and those coming from other smartphone brands,” Kantar Worldpanel ComTech analyst Mary-Ann Parlato said in a statement. “In particular, 36 percent of iOS sales were derived from other smartphone users over the last year. While this figure remains stable over time, the proportion of Android users moving towards the Apple brand increases. Nineteen percent of iOS sales over the last year were derived from Android users, compared to 9 percent in 2011.”

The report noted that this trend is most evident within network operator Verizon, where just under half (49 percent) of iOS sales were derived from users of other smartphone brands, and 30 percent were derived from Android. These figures are much higher compared to AT&T where 15 percent of iPhone purchasers came from other smartphone users (6 percent from Android).

AT&T continued to utilize their large Apple base with 55 percent of their iOS sales stemming from these users upgrading to a newer iPhone, while 37 percent of Verizon’s iOS sales were derived from their large feature phone base. Although AT&T continued to maintain its lead with 33.3 percent of smartphones sold in this 12-week period, the company has declined slightly, reducing the gap with Verizon whose share remains stable with 32 percent of smartphones sold.

While Sprint remains one of the key carriers offering Apple’s iPhone, the company is seeing little increase in sales share, as the brand continues to decline this period in third place with 14.8 percent of smartphone sales, the report found.

Apple’s share of the smartphone market is expected to peak in 2013 at 22 percent and remain flat through 2018, according to a report earlier this month from IT analytics firm ABI Research. The company is under increasing pressure from smartphone market leader Samsung and a slew of devices running Android. Overall smartphone shipments are expected to account for half of all handset shipments by 2014 and become the largest handset segment in the world. By 2018, 2.4 billion handset shipments with smartphones will account for 69 percent of all handset shipments.