Apple’s iPhone Continues to Gain Subscriber Share in Q4 2012

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Apple's share of U.S. smartphone subscribers continued to grow in the December quarter of 2012, according to new data released by comScore. iPhone users grew 2.0 percentage points during the quarter to represent 36.3 percent of total smartphone subscribers.

comScore Chart

Chart by The Mac Observer from comScore Data

Samsung also grew its share of subscribers, growing some 2.3 percentage points to 21 percent of the market, up from 18.7 percent. That's faster growth than Apple enjoyed, and it came at the expense of HTC and Google's Motorola Mobility division. LG also saw subscriber growth, rising 0.5 percent to 7.1 percent.

Samsung has been Apple's chief rival for the last 12-18 months or so, and in late 2012, Samsung surpassed Apple to become the world's largest maker of smartphones. Earlier on Wednesday, we reported that the two companies combined laid claim to 101 percent of the hardware profits of the entire industry, though Apple has a much larger chunk of those profit than Samsung.

So that's the OEM battle in the U.S., how about platforms? When looking at the data in that manner, Apple again grew its share by 2.0 percentage points. As a whole widget device maker, the two sets of Apple-specific data are identical.

When comparing platforms, however, Apple outgrew Android as a whole. Android is still the largest platform by a wide margin, but its share of subscribers rose 0.9 percent to 53.4 percent, compared to the 2.0 percent increase for Apple.

The chart below shows that both platforms took their growth from BlackBerry, Microsoft's Windows Phones, and the now-defunct Symbian OS. BlackBerry's share plummeted from 8.4 percent to 6.4 percent. That's just 2.0 percentage points, but it represents a 23.8 percent drop.

comScore Data

Chart by The Mac Observer from comScore Data

comScore's reports cater to a different market than market share sales data from IDC or Gartner. comScore measures subscriber share, a number more important to those who follow wireless carriers than those who follow the hardware side of the smartphone industry.

Apple has historically enjoyed a better share in this report than its market share of new sales reflected, in part because Apple's devices tend to remain in use much longer than competing devices from other companies, especially when compared to the low end of the Android market.

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