Nielsen: Android Wining OS Battle, Apple/RIM Winning Hardware

Who is winning the U.S. smartphone battle? That’s a rhetorical question asked by market share research firm Nielsen, and the company’s rhetorical answer was, “The answer depends on whether you’re looking at operating systems or manufacturers.” The less rhetorical version is that Google is winning the battle for operating system market share, while Apple and Research In Motion are winning the hardware battle.

From November of 2010 to January of 2011, Android devices usurped both Apple’s iPhone and RIM’s BlackBerry platform to take 29% of the smartphone market in the U.S. Apple is now tied with RIM for #2, each with 27% of the market.

In a report, Nielsen wrote, “But an analysis by manufacturer shows RIM and Apple to be the winners compared to other device makers since they are the only ones creating and selling smartphones with their respective operating systems.”

That’s laid out in the chart below, which shows Apple and BlackBerry with the lion’s share of device sales, with HTC as the #3 hardware maker with a combined total of Android and Windows Mobile and Windows Phone 7 devices accounting for 19% of the market.

We should also note that until this time frame, RIM was the market share leader in the U.S., making both Apple’s and Android’s ascendancy a notable event.

Nielsen Chart

Nielsen released another chart showing the age breakdown of users across operating systems for smartphones. Android, iPhone (iOS), and BlackBerry were all pretty close in their demographics, but we did notice that there are fewer Android users above the age of 55, while there are more Android users from 18-24.

Nielsen Chart

Covering the three months between November and January, the company’s findings predate the release of Apple’s iPhone 4 on the Verizon network, and it’s a guarantee that analysts (and pundits) will be watching for market share reports after the mid-February release of the Verizon iPhone.