Android Overtakes iPhone in U.S. Smartphone Market

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Google’s Android OS surpassed Apple’s iPhone in the U.S. smartphone for the first time in December, according to a report issued Monday by comScore. The firm said that RIM retained its #1, but that it lost share to Android and iPhone. Apple gained share, bot not enough to maintain its lead over Google, which is the new #2.

All told, Research In Motion had 31.6% share (down from 37.3%), Android had 28.7% share (up from 21.4%), and Apple had 25% (up from 24.3%). Microsoft was a distant #4, with 8.4%, losing share from the 9.9% it held in the prior quarter despite the release of the company’s new smartphone OS, Windows Phone 7.

comScore Chart

Source: comScore

The company’s data also found that some 63.2 million Americans own smartphones, a 7.3% increase from the prior quarter, and a 60% increase year-over-year.

We should note that this report specifically concerned smartphones, which was why we specified iPhone, rather than iOS, which includes iPod touch and iPads. While many Apple and iOS fans may want to include the other iOS devices when comparing market share, industry watchers are far more prone to categorizing and segmenting markets among much more stringent lines, in this case the smartphone market.

Android’s rise has been meteoric, and we’ve long expected numbers like this to show how the Android platform as a whole, which is comprised of a score or more devices, had finally surpassed the iPhone for total users. Now that this threshold has been crossed, all eyes will be on how a second carrier in the U.S. affects sales in this market.

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It is no longer amazing that companies can come up with completely different numbers.

IDC’s stats

John Molloy

Going to be an interesting chart going forward with Apple on Verizon.

Also nice to see all those percentages but if you back out the overwhelming onslaught of Android and look at manufacturers and numbers it is a different story. To quote Tim Morgan over at The Register - hardly a bastion of Apple love - who posted this today on the world wide share of smartphone manufacturers:

Nokia was still the top maker of smartphones in 2010, but its growth is fading compared to Apple, whose iPhone is growing share like a weed. Nokia, which is apparently in the midst of a massive management shakeup, cranked out 28.3 million smartphones in Q4, rising 36.1 per cent over the prior year. But that was less than half the growth rate of Apple, which shot up by 86.2 per cent to 16.2 million units, bypassing Research in Motion to take the number two spot in smartphones. RIM came in third in Q4, with 36.4 per cent growth, to 14.6 million units sold.

But of course to make claims like that is to encourage words like “cheating” but is it really fair to compare Apple to everyone else who is taking a free ride on Android? Really?


Agreed. It seems that weekly there are reports saying that somebody different is #1. All depends on how you slice and dice the stats. If you dug around you could probably find some report that says WinMob7 is #1. LOL

That Android might have the largest share of subscribers is no surprise. It was bound to happen sooner or later. Seems like everyone with a soldering iron is making an Android phone these days.

I do question RIM being #1. At least among the people I know none of them want a BlackBerry. I also wonder about Palm being on the list at all. They don’t exist any more.

What is conspicuously absent is methodology. How did they get these numbers. How did they compile these numbers. That information would put this report in context and give it more meaning.

It will also be interesting what impact Verizon has on the standings in the coming months. Of course as mentioned above they can make these numbers say whatever they want so who knows.


It is no longer amazing that companies can come up with completely different numbers.

One difference I see is the comparisons between hardware manufacturers, as IDC did, vs platforms, as comScore is doing. These will yield different results, which is underscored by rattyuk’s quote from The Register, perhaps even more so when comparing the global vs US markets. On the one hand, no individual handset maker using Android is moving the number of units, or has the growth rate, of Apple’s iPhone. On the other hand, the Android platform exceeds the iOS market share on the iPhone (only) handset.

but is it really fair to compare Apple to everyone else who is taking a free ride on Android

I think the answer comes down to being clear about what is being compared, hardware manufacturers or OS (hardware independent). From what I can see, Wall Street (and perhaps others) appear to be more interested in handset makers as an indicator of platform health and growth potential.


Well, Wall Street seems to be enamored with both Google and Apple if the stock runups are to be believed. Apple’s almost to 355 and Google is nearing 620. One is about the hardware and software, the other is about the software.

For a while, the two will dominate the market until somebody comes up with something original to outthink, out-maneuver, or, out-distance them both. (to borrow a phrase from my British ancestors…not bloody likely).


Seems like everyone with a soldering iron is making an Android phone these days.

Clever, geoduck. And funny.

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