Samsung, Android Platform Make Gains in Smartphone Market

Android realized 5.8 percent growth from the same period last year and accounted for more than half of smartphone sales.

Thanks in part to Samsung’s price drop in late 2012, which led various smartphone and feature phone users to upgrade to a Samsung device, Google’s Android mobile operating system continued to increase its share of smartphones sold over the last year in the United States, according to data released by Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.

Android realized 5.8 percent growth compared with the same period last year and accounted for more than half (51.2 percent) of smartphone sales. Sales of Apple’s iPhone helped keep the iOS platform in second place with 43.5 percent of smartphone sales. However, that figure was down for a consecutive period by 3.5 percent versus last year. Windows, on the other hand, continued to make gains, up to 4.1 percent of smartphone sales, according to Kantar’s research.

"Last month we saw that Android’s increases were thanks to a large increase in Samsung sales within Sprint," Kantar Worldpanel ComTech analyst Mary-Ann Parlato said in a statement. "This month, while the increases for Samsung are less pronounced, we’re still seeing an increase in uptake of the brand, which is now impacting on Sprint’s overall share in smartphone sales."

Of those who purchased a Samsung smartphone in the last year, more than half (52 percent) purchased a Galaxy S3, 21 percent a Galaxy S2 and 5 percent a Galaxy Note 2. And compared with purchasers of other brands, Samsung purchasers were more likely to cite "handset cost" and "carrier brand" as key drivers, the report found.

"Of those who changed their phone over the last year to a Samsung smartphone, 19 percent had previously owned a Samsung feature phone, 15 percent owned a HTC smartphone, 14 percent owned an LG feature phone, 10 percent owned a Samsung smartphone and 9 percent owned a BlackBerry," Parlato said. "It’s apparent that Samsung is successful at capturing users from across the competitor set and not just gaining from their own loyalists, (albeit loyalty towards Samsung has also grown)."

The top carrier remained Verizon with 35 percent of smartphones sold in the three months ending in February. While AT&T remained in second place, Sprint increased, now representing 15 percent of smartphones sold (up 2.1 percent).

A March report from IT research firm IDC projected the worldwide smart-connected device space will continue to surge with shipments surpassing 2.2 billion units and revenues reaching $814.3 billion in 2017. Worldwide shipments of smart-connected devices grew nearly 30 percent year-over-year in 2012, crossing 1 billion units shipped with a value of $576.9 billion.

On a global scale, Apple significantly closed the gap with market leader Samsung in the quarter, as the combination of the company’s iPhone 5 and iPad Mini brought Apple up to 20.3 percent unit shipment share, compared with 21.2 percent for Samsung.