Google's Android Beats Apple's iPhone Last Quarter

While the smartphone market for the mainstream customer in the U.S. still largely belongs the Apple and its iPhone, things could be changing quickly. According to research firm NPD's survey of 150,000 "nationally balanced and demographically-representative" respondents, smartphones running the Android operating system moved past Apple to take the number-two position among smartphone operating systems.

NPD's wireless market research reveals that based on unit sales to consumers last quarter the Android operating system moved into second position at 28 percent behind RIM's BlackBerry OS (36 percent) and ahead of Apple's OS (21 percent).

"As in the past, carrier distribution and promotion have played a crucial role in determining smartphone market share," said Ross Rubin, executive director of industry analysis for NPD. "In order to compete with the iPhone, Verizon Wireless has expanded its buy-one-get-one offer beyond RIM devices to now include all of their smartphones."

Strong sales of the Droid, Droid Eris, and Blackberry Curve via these promotions helped keep Verizon Wireless's smartphone sales on par with AT&T in Q1. According to NPD's Mobile Phone Track, smartphone sales at AT&T comprised nearly a third of the entire smartphone market (32 percent), followed by Verizon Wireless (30 percent), T-Mobile (17 percent) and Sprint (15 percent).

"Recent previews of BlackBerry 6, the recently announced acquisition of Palm by HP, and the pending release of Windows Phone 7 demonstrates the industry's willingness to make investments to address consumer demand for smartphones and other mobile devices," Rubin said. "Carriers continue to offer attractive pricing for devices, but will need to present other data-plan options to attract more customers in the future."

AllThingsD got Apple's take on this report and others like it, which predictably downplayed Android's success and growth.

"This is a very limited report on 150,000 US consumers responding to an online survey and does not account for the more than 85 million iPhone and iPod touch customers worldwide," said Apple spokeswoman Natalie Harrison.

iPhone OS-running devices such as the iPod touch and iPad do mean that Apple has a lead in that area, but NPD's numbers did not include the iPod touch or non-smartphone Android devices such as the Archos 5.

Marcus Yam is a technology evangelist for Intel Corporation, the latest in a long line of tech-focused roles spanning a more than 20-year career in the industry. As Executive Editor, News on Tom's Guide and Tom's Hardware, Marcus was responsible for shaping the sites' news output, and he also spent a period as Editor of Outdoors & Sports at Digital Trends.

  • anamaniac
    Common, a fruit or a cool green robot? The choice is simple.
  • matt314
    Her argument is pretty lame... Why would they include ipods in a smartphone comparison?
  • Clintonio
    Eat the fruit, use the robot.
  • The iPods are included to overly inflate Apple's numbers. They don't separate the two, for fear that people will realize the iPhone isn't that pervasive.

    This is a non-story. Why should I care most other people are buying? I make buying decisions without consulting whether an item is popular.
  • christopherknapp
    So, the other companies have to use 4 or 5 different phones to compete with the iPhone in numbers ... interesting.
  • WR
    The relevance of the ipod touch and ipad non-phones is that they use the same mobile apps as the iphone. The app store drives the "smart" part of smartphone. A large installed base woos developers. The "phone" portion is unimpressive, certainly not the main reason people pay for an iphone.
  • deck
    christopherknappSo, the other companies have to use 4 or 5 different phones to compete with the iPhone in numbers ... interesting.
    How is that relevent? not interesting.
  • demosthenes81
    I love my android phone (Motorolla Backflip) even though its not the newest version of the Android OS and because of it i now know the draw to to a smartphone it can do anything nearly its a mobile replacement for a pc i think google did well with android the more people that find out the more it will grow and a large portion of the app in android marketplace are free to boot!
  • christopherknapp
    It's both interesting and relevant ...

    Think about it. It's like saying "we scored more goals than you" when they have 4-5 times the amount of players.
  • dheadley
    not an Apple fan, but I really don't see this NPD report meaning much. First it's a survey and you can drastically change the outcome of any survey results by targeting geographic areas, age groups, etc. And it doesn't really jive with the hard sales data published by IDC and many others.

    Also if AT&T accounted for 32% of the smartphone market in the US and Verizon 30% of the market and Blackberry was the number 1 seller in the US brand wise, but the iPhone outsold everything else at AT&T it would seem that the bulk of the Android and Blackberry sales are coming from Verizon and the buy 1 get 1 free deals, or even buy 1 get 2 free on Blackberry phones at times. It is easy to get marketshare by giving away a free phone or two for everyone you actually sell.

    It makes perfect sense. They are Saying Android, which is an OS not a phone is not even coming close to Apples OS.

    The smartphone marketshare breakdown really does not mean as much on a OS basis as everyone wants it to. Apple basically makes one phone on one carrier. Find another single smartphone that sells even half the number of phones that the iPhone does. If you do it will definitely not be an Android phone.

    Personally if it takes over a dozen phones built by almost every long time cellular maker, and available on every single carrier, 2 years to build up the customer base of one single phone made by someone new to the cellular market, I wouldn't really be touting that as a great success.