Friday, July 29, 2011

Android's lead over iOS. Whose numbers should you believe?

A story out of the Nielsen polling service this week - "In U.S. Smartphone Market, Android is Top Operating System, Apple is Top Manufacturer", referencing June 2011 survey data, attributed a 39% share of the U.S. smartphone market to the Android operating system. Nielsen puts Apple’s iPhone in second place with 28% of the U.S. market.The Nielsen U.S. numbers for Android match IDC's worldwide tracking data, published on June 9, which give Android a 39% share to Apple's 18.2% worldwide share.

Just last month, another story published at CNN Money - "Needham: Android's market share peaked in March", claimed that Android's U.S. market share had fallen "from 52.4% to 49.5%". The Money/Fortune Magazine article referenced a note to clients that was published by Charles Wolf, a senior analyst at Needham Equity Research.  This story garnered a lot of publicity for the statement that this was Android's "first sequential loss in any region of the world since early 2009". It's interesting to note that Wolf also used IDC data as a basis for his analysis.

According to CNN Money, Wolf also claimed that Apple's share of the U.S. smartphone market increased by 12.3% to 29.5% in Q1 2011. Together, Wolf's analysis gives roughly 80% of the U.S. smartphone market to Android and Apple. But what about Blackberry manufacturer RIM, the not so long ago leader of U.S. smartphone market, not to mention Microsoft and Window Phone 7? In March of this year, the same CNN Money published "Android passes BlackBerry as No. 1 on smartphones", in which they gave 30.4% of the U.S. market to RIM. Has the Blackberry fallen off the American map in just 3 months?

To triangulate, we can look at another recent analysis - from the Wall Street Journal on July 5. In "Apple's US Smartphone Market Share Tops RIM's -ComScore", the analysis by market research company comScore found that
"during the three months ending in May 2011, 76.8 million people in the U.S. owned smartphones... Among smartphone owners, Apple accounted for 26.6%... RIM followed accounting for 24.7% of the market"
According to the WSJ report on comScore, Android's market share "jumped to 38.1% from 33%". The Needham analysis by Wolf, and the headline-grabbing claim that Android peaked and is losing ground to Apple, looks to be a little off. 

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