iPhone Heating up Touch-Screen Smartphone Sales

The Apple iPhone has encouraged use of smartphones with touch screens, according to a report by ComScore saying the iPhone has 32.9 percent of the market. However, holiday arrivals, particularly smartphones running Google's Android mobile operating system, are likely to change that.

It seems increasingly likely that history will remember the Apple iPhone.

Not only has the iPhone has been credited with setting off a mobile industrywide race to create ever-growing portfolios of downloadable mobile applications, but a study by ComScore released Nov. 3 found that it's also a major contributor to the growing adoption of smartphones with touch screens.

Between August 2008 and 2009, touch-screen mobile phone adoption in the United States grew by 159 percent, from 9.2 million to 23.8 million subscribers. This outpaced overall smartphone adoption, which grew at an otherwise respectable rate of 63 percent, from 20.7 million to 33.8 million subscribers.

"Touch-screen phones have quickly gained adoption as new devices have flooded the mobile marketplace. It's clear that consumers are embracing touch-screen interfaces that allow them to easily navigate the increasingly powerful and complex services afforded by new phones," ComScore analyst Mark Donovan said in a statement.

"This is a trend that should continue to pick up as additional touch-screen devices, many of them running the Android operating system, arrive in the market before the holiday shopping season," Donovan continued.

Notable new holiday offerings featuring touch screens are the Motorola Cliq, the T-Mobile Tap, the Samsung Behold II, a 3G Fender Limited Edition version of the HTC MyTouch, Research In Motion's BlackBerry Storm2 and the Samsung Moment. Additionally, the Motorola Droid will arrive on Nov. 6, and the Palm Pixi, a junior sibling of sorts to the Pre, is scheduled for a Nov. 15 debut.

Measuring June, July and August device use, ComScore found the "touch-screen device family" with the largest percentage of market share to be the iPhone, with 32.9 percent, followed by the LG Dare with 8.7 percent and the LG Voyager with 7.8 percent market share.

RIM's BlackBerry Storm followed with 7.0 percent, and behind it were the Palm Treo with 6.5 percent, the Samsung Instinct with 5.0 percent, the T-Mobile G1 with 3.6 percent, the HTC Touch with 3.3 percent, the Samsung Glyde with 2.7 percent and finally LG's Xenon, with 2.6 percent of market share.

"The iPhone clearly set the trend in the industry for touch-screen devices, so it's no surprise that it has the largest share of the market," Donovan said. "But as other players have entered the touch-screen market with compelling devices, competition is clearly heating up."

The mobile subscribers particularly putting on the heat are younger users, ComScore found. While mobile subscribers between the ages of 13 and 34 make up 38 percent of the overall smartphone market, they account for 57.7 percent of touch-screen device use. More specifically, 20.6 percent of touch-screen users are between 18 and 24 years old.