Don’t be misled by poorly-reported NPD Android vs. iPhone stats

invisibleSHIELD case for iPad“Android has finally done it! For the first time ever, the volume of Android devices sold beat the volume of Apple iPhones sold for a given quarter,” Tony Bradley reports for PCWorld. “However, the statistics are misleading and point to a somewhat hollow victory.”

MacDailyNews Take: As we’ve already explained here: NPD survey: Excluding business sales, RIM has 36%, Android 28%, iPhone 21% in U.S. smartphone share – May 10, 2010

Bradley continues, “As my PCWorld peers have pointed out, drastically reduced pricing, and aggressive buy-one-get-one-free offers from wireless providers create a false sense of success. Imagine how the stats might compare if AT&T started offering the iPhone 3GS for $50 with a buy-one-get-one-free incentive… There are a couple other reasons that the sales figures from the past quarter are not really indicative of Android overtaking the iPhone. One of them is the iPad, and the other is the iPhone 4G (or whatever they end up dubbing the next-generation iPhone).”

“Many who might otherwise have purchased an iPhone this past quarter may have invested their discretionary income in the iPad instead,” Bradley reports. “It is also probable that many who might be considering an iPhone, or upgrading an existing iPhone to a newer model are simply holding out for the iPhone 4G.”

NPD’s “numbers from this quarter don’t really mean what they appear to mean,” Bradley reports.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: If you needed any more reasons, Bradley also missed the facts that 1) NPD’s numbers were the result of a survey, not actual sales; 2) that NPD’s survey-based projections do not include corporate/enterprise mobile phone sales; and 3) NPD’s data is U.S.-only.

In short, Android’s market share has not surpassed iPhone’s. Please see also:

Survey: Verizon customers suffer from iPhone jealousy – May 10, 2010
• IDC: Apple posts strong growth in global smartphone market share as Nokia stays flat, RIM declines – May 07, 2010
• comScore: Apple iPhone grabs 25.3% share of U.S. smartphone market – February 09, 2010
• Deutsche Bank: Apple iPhone making significant inroads into the enterprise – November 02, 2009
• Optus: Apple iPhone gaining strong traction in the enterprise – July 31, 2009

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Jack” for the heads up.]


  1. What happened to the MDN “it’s not the numbers, it’s the trend” take on these reports in the past? Now that Apple is on the losing side of the trend, it’s the numbers that matter? Make up your mind.

    By the way, who cares if Android has more units in service? Does that make the iPhone any less great? Get over it.

  2. Anyone who read this as Android overtaking iPhone for total smartphone marketshare is an idiot in the first place. With that said, the NPD data – based of 159k responses does show Q1 device sales favoring Android over iPhone, which shouldn’t come as a surprise.

    As far as the ‘doesn’t take into account the enterprise’, as much as I love MDN – all this is going to do is understate RIM’s % of device sales, iPhone has yet to really make substantial inroads into the enterprise, and android would be unaffected b/c it’s still ‘not ready for primetime’. So if we want to boost RIM then go ahead, but for consumer data this sample seems valid.

  3. It doesn’t matter how the numbers came to be whether the Android devices were $50 or buy one get one free.. The bottom line is that an Android device and not an iPhone has made it’s way into the hands of a consumer, as a shareholder I’d prefer that not be the case

  4. @MK… exactly how I was feeling when I heard the news!! But I must admit that I am one of those that is patiently waiting for the next gen iPhone to come out. My 3G is over 2 years old and feeling quite slow along side my wife’s 3GS. I do wish Apple would hurry up and reserve some stage somewhere for the June announcement… I know… it may not be June, but I have to hold out hope!!

  5. Why does MDN have such a hard time with anything that in any, way, shape or form doesn’t show Apple dominating everything?

    Apple sells iPhones on a single carrier, while the Androids and Blackberries are sold on multiple carriers – and somehow this is surprising that they don’t sell as much? Really, the iPhone stands on it’s own and doesn’t need these sill excuses or rationalizations MDN makes for it.

  6. why, DJ, et al.,

    “Why does MDN have such a hard time with anything that in any, way, shape or form doesn’t show Apple dominating everything?”

    They don’t. With this one, though, the problem is that it’s being misreported. It isn’t the truth.

    Sorry if MDN’s pointing out the actual facts destroys whatever fantasy world you’ve concocted.

  7. DJ,

    There is no trend. This whole mess is based on a one-off NPD survey. There’s nothing to compare it to – probably because it’s worthless data.

    As MDN has already explained many times (you only seem to have gotten part of it), what matters are trends as long as there are “consistent data points.” Without them, there is no trend to discern.

    – – –


    You’re not worth the effort.

  8. @MK speaking of bottom line isn’t it who is making money selling their hand sets that matter? Do you think Verizon is taking a bath or maybe the vendors of their handsets are. All Verizon has done is usher in the era of the disposable smart phone. Here we are 3 years after initial introduction of the IPhone and we still gave a number of Gen 1 IPhones in use and useful life of Gen 2 and 3 keep getting extended with every OS upgrade. Android units cannot make that claim because of fragmentation. If you have a problem with an Android phone not supported by a carrier, good luck with support as Google has chosen to opt out of that deal. I guess dealing with the customers of their customers is not in their wheelhouse.

  9. It seems to me that the missing piece in all of the “Android vs. Apple” discussion is the iPhone’s gateway drug — the iPod Touch. All those kiddies out there using their Touch as a game machine would seem to be ripe for being flipped into iPhone users. A steady stream of future customers for Apple.


  10. @Bobchr

    I think it’s a disillusion that everyone who uses an Android device is in pure misery, with a disposable device that suffers from fragmentation.

    Sure, I’m an Apple fan and I know and believe the iPhone to be a superior device. That doesn’t change the fact that there are lots of satisfied Android users out there. So to answer your question, NO, I don’t think the bottom line is about whose making the most money. I think the bottom line is who is winning over the most new customers into their platform..

    Now I certainly don’t believe that the iPhone is hurting or in any danger, that’s not my point. My point is, I don’t like seeing these numbers, and I don’t like to see the Android platform gaining traction.

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