updated 07:55 am EST, Wed January 18, 2012
Nielsen says iPhone 4S halted Android buzz
The sustained effect of the iPhone 4S is triggering a decline in Android's US market share, Nielsen showed Wednesday. Although Android had an average 51.7 percent share for the fall among recent buyers, a month-by-month breakdown by the researchers showed that its share among recent buyers dropped from 61.6 percent in October to 48.7 percent in November as iPhone sales traffic picked up. By December, Android and iOS were near even, at 46.9 and 44.5 percent each.
The gain was such that, while the iPhone had 30 percent of all smartphone users in the fall, it had a much larger 37 percent among those who had just bought in those three months. Apple had cut most deeply into the BlackBerry's share, which was down to just six points among recents, but also stole Windows Mobile users who would have otherwise been going to Windows Phone.
About 57 percent of iPhone buyers were getting the 4S, Nielsen said, showing that the more expensive smartphone wasn't a deterrent.
Apple may have been taking advantage of those graduating to smartphones for the first time. Roughly 46 percent of Americans had smartphones in the fall, but 60 percent of those who were buying a cellphone in the season had picked a smartphone instead.
Whether or not Apple can sustain demand into the new year isn't certain, although its increases at Google's expense even into December suggests that the share jump wasn't just a momentary spike owing to the immediate circumstances of the launch. The iPhone has been helped not just by new hardware but by expansion to Sprint and the first truly new iPhone release on Verizon, both of which will have tamped down Android demand. Verizon sold 4.2 million iPhones in the fall, or about twice as much as its entire 4G Android and hotspot portfolio combined.