The gap between Android and iOS for new smartphone purchases has narrowed drastically since last October. According to Nielsen, the iPhone 4S and the reduced price of the iPhone 3GS (which is free in many markets), have had “an enormous impact on the proportion of smartphone owners who chose an Apple iPhone.”
The latest Nielsen data, which dates back to October, shows that Android’s operating system share of recent smartphone purchases has dropped dramatically from 61.6% in October 2011 to 46.9% by December. Conversely, iOS has grown from 25.1% in October to 44.5% by December, trailing Android by just 2.4%. RIM’s Blackberry continued its steady decline, falling 3.2% to round out the year at a 4.5% share of the market.
Of note, while the free iPhone 3GS and reduced-price iPhone 4 did contribute to iOS’s growth among new smartphone purchases, Nielsen’s data shows that consumers weren’t afraid to pay a premium, with 57% of iOS purchasers claiming to have purchased the new iPhone 4S.
It is important to remember that these results from Nielsen only reference recent smartphone purchases. In an examination of the entire smartphone market, as of the fourth quarter Android holds 16.3% lead over iOS.
Today’s report illustrates just how quickly the smartphone market can turn. It was just just last September that Nielsen reported a 13% increase in Android market share amongst new smartphone purchases, to 56% overall, compared to just 28% for iOS. The launch of the iPhone 4S and the re-pricing of its immediate predecessors just a few weeks later changed the tide dramatically.