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  (Source: Edible Blog)
iPhone likely seized over a half of all U.S. smartphone sales

AT&T Inc.'s (T) blowout quarter was newsworthy enough, but it dropped a bit of a shocker in its numbers release -- 7.6 million iPhone activated for the quarter, with 9.4 million smartphones sold.  That means the iPhone outsold Android and Windows Phone combined nearly 4-to-1 on America's largest carrier.

(Now some have pointed out that "activated" phones can include third party sales, free phones, etc. and are distrustful of AT&T's assertion that the "majority" of activated iPhones are iPhone 4Ss... in other words they're saying that Verizon and AT&T's iPhone numbers are skewed in Apple's favor.  But a report indicates that 9 out of 10 iPhones purchased are iPhone 4Ss -- and much of the remainder is likely iPhone 4 sales, so this seems like sour grapes. -JM)

Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) success with iPhone 4S is so startling that it deserves a recap:

The players:
  1. Verizon Wireless
    (joint venture between Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) and Vodafone Group Plc. (LON:VOD))
  2. AT&T
  3. Sprint Nextel Corp. (S)
  4. Deutsche Telekom AG's (ETR:DTE) T-Mobile USA
Results (Confirmed: AT&T and Verizon; Pending: Sprint and T-Mobile's, italicized):

iPhone dominates
So, the disclaimer here is that Sprint and T-Mobile did not report their quarterly earnings yet, much less their smartphone sales.  And judging by past earnings reports, Sprint may not give solid numbers for iPhone sales and neither carrier is likely to give concrete estimates of smartphone sales.  But there's no reason, based on past numbers, to expect these carriers to be selling smartphones at a significantly higher per-subscriber percentage than Verizon/AT&T.

Let's say we're horribly off and that the iPhone sold only ~52%.  Recent estimates show Canada's Research in Motion, Ltd. (TSE:RIM) to hold about 6% of U.S. sales, while Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) and others took up about 5 percent of sales.  That would place Android at around 37%.

The odd thing is even the best analyst estimates didn't see this coming.  They predicted a near tie for Apple in the U.S., but did not predict an Apple victory to this extent.

Android and Apple have had a dramatic role reversal.  Ironically this reversal came on a launch that many analysts complained lacked enough new features (the only major upgrade was Siri) to impress buyers.  

iPhone 4S
Analysts thought the iPhone 4S would flop.  How wrong they were.
[Image Source: The Tech Journal]

The iPhone on AT&T was boosted in part due to strong legacy sales -- the iPhone 4 retails for $99 USD with 2-year contract on AT&T, while the iPhone 3GS is free with contract.

Will the mass-market invasion of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich in H1 2012 stem the rising iPhone tide?  Will Windows Phone finally gain a leg up in the U.S. market? There are plenty of unknowns for the upcoming year, but it is clear that Apple absolutely owned the holiday 2011 U.S. sales.

Source: AT&T

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RE: Just goes to show
By moriz on 1/26/2012 10:07:49 PM , Rating: 3
a much more valid argument is that iOS is simpler than android. believe it or not, there's a pretty big distinction between "simple" and "easy".

in actual use, iOS is a childishly simple operating system that can be operated by... well, a child. apple deserves full props for designing an OS that's elegant, simple, and fully functional. by fully functional, i mean that it has enough complexity to allow all of its features to be used. on the flip side of the coin, going this route means that each iOS device must be operated in the exact same way. pick up anybody's iphone and you'll be greeted with the exact same interface. the only difference being the background and placement of icons.

android on the other hand, is noticeably more complex, and that complexity allows for a much more varied user experience. each android phone, even those of the same make and model, can look and operate drastically different. this allows the user to decide how the phone operates. not only does android fulfills all the necessary requirements for full functionality, it also allows the user to choose how those functionalities are presented and used. for example, 30 minutes of tinkering on my nexus s allowed me to install a custom ICS rom and kernel, that made it lightning fast and gained a lot of additional functionality, like being able to call, text, and toggle settings right out of the lockscreen.

so to sum it up:
-iOS is safe, simple, and elegant. practically anyone can pick it up and use it for full effect. however, user experience is very narrow.

-android is more complex and varied, though just as elegant, and allows more experienced users to tailor their phone to their own requirements and workflow.

is one better than the other? that depends the user. to me, both are excellent.

as for whether android needs to cater to the same marketspace as iOS: i disagree. apple became popular and powerful because they DIDN'T try to be like microsoft. they became powerful because the realized that there is a very large (and rich) niche in the market that wasn't fulfilled, and they went after that niche with brutal efficiency and stunning execution. competitors in the smartphone/mobile market would be better served to do the same thing, since apple has that segment of the market dominated. going after the same niche would just make android a distant also-ran.

"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer

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