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Android posts impressive growth -- but so does Apple

ComScore, a leader in market research on mobile devices, publishes data on smartphone market share by device maker on a three-month basis.  The results offer some interesting perspective, as they are one-month out of alignment with calendar quarters -- the window most other market research firms deliver their data on.

Throughout 2011, comScore reported that everything looked great for Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Android, which was surging ahead [1][2][3], at nearly every other smartphone players' expense.

But the latest numbers, in terms of total subscribers, reflect a more heated race for smartphone supremacy between Google and Apple, Inc. (AAPL).

comScore Q4 by platform

For Nov. and Dec. 2011, plus Jan. 2012, Android sustained a 2.3 percent growth pace.  Meanwhile Apple managed an impressive 1.4 percent growth.  These numbers reflect strong sales of the iPhone 4S reported by America's top wireless carriers during the holiday season [1][2][3].

Looking ahead to 2012, the biggest question is whether Apple will be able to keep accelerating its growth to the point where it once more becomes a serious threat to Android.  Despite its strong quarter, Apple's iPhones are still outnumbered by Android devices 3-to-2 in the U.S. market.

In terms of overall mobile device sales (including feature phones), Apple was the only OEM in the top five to post a gain.  

comScore Q4 2011 by OEM

However, that figure is a bit deceptive as Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd.'s (KS:005930) 0.1 percent dip or Google's almost-subsidiary Motorola Mobility's larger 0.4 decline, are arguably a healthy sign, in that -- combined with the overall large Android growth -- they represent a customer migration to feature phones.  As it takes several feature phones to equal the profits of a single smartphone, these numbers ultimately look promising for Samsung and Motorola.

But they're also very good for Apple, who not only grew fast, but also slightly grew its OEM market share.  That represents that some feature phone ditchers are jumping ship to Apple for their first smartphone.  And considering Apple as much as an order of magnitude more profits per-device than Android phonemakers, it's evident why Apple is sustaining its position as the world's most profitable electronics company.

iPhone 4S
Many first time smartphone buyers are choosing Apple's premium-priced devices.
[Image Source: Device Mag]
 
Word came this week that Apple and top Android phonemakers may be close to a licensing truce, ending hundreds of global lawsuits.  The end to that distraction should allow the phonemakers to refocus on their top objective -- market competition.

The picture isn't pretty for Ontario-based Research in Motion, Ltd. (TSE:RIM) or Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) both of whom slid in market share.  RIM has big plans to reimagine itself in 2012 by cutting its fees and debuting new BlackBerry 10 OS (QNX-derivative) devices.  Likewise, Microsoft's partner Nokia Oyj. (HEL:NOK1V) is stepping up its game [1][2] and other partners also have LTE Windows Phones on or approaching the market.

Source: comScore



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Why just smart phones?
By tayb on 3/9/2012 10:08:46 AM , Rating: 2
Why not total devices? Apple and Google are battling for mobile OS market share and Android/iOS are running on a lore more devices than just smart phones. These numbers should include media players, tablets, and smart phones. Those are the kinds of numbers I would like to see.




RE: Why just smart phones?
By Solandri on 3/9/2012 3:03:43 PM , Rating: 2
These types of reports are usually made for investors deciding which company to put their money into, so they break up market share by company.

Mobile OS market share is really only of interest to the few companies making mobile OSes (Apple, Google, Microsoft/Nokia, RIM) and fanboys. Maybe developers too, although both iOS and Android are well beyond critical mass. The only market share figures developers would really be interested in are WP7 and RIM market share.


By TakinYourPoints on 3/9/2012 9:57:56 PM , Rating: 2
They do release reports on other devices periodically. Here is a report they did detailing tablet traffic and comparing data usage from last year: http://www.comscore.com/Press_Events/Press_Release...

On the subject of tablets:
quote:
iPads dominate among tablets in driving digital traffic. In August 2011, iPads delivered 97.2 percent of all tablet traffic in the U.S. iPads have also begun to account for a higher share of Internet traffic than iPhones (46.8 percent vs. 42.6 percent of all iOS device traffic).


Below that are figures on total iOS and Android traffic taking all devices into account.


"We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs














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