NPD: Apple iPhone 4 for Verizon best-selling mobile phone in U.S.; causes Android to lose share for first time since Q209

According to The NPD Group, in the first quarter of this year Apple’s mobile phone sales reached 14 percent of the U.S. market.

Apple outranked HTC, Motorola and RIM as the third-largest handset brand in the U.S., behind Samsung at 23 percent and LG at 18 percent.

After launching on Verizon’s network in February, Apple’s iPhone 4 further solidified its position as the top-selling mobile phone in the U.S., while iPhone 3GS, Motorola Droid X, HTC EVO 4G, and HTC Droid Incredible rounded out NPD’s top-five mobile phone handset ranking. Unit sales of smartphones increased 8 percent in Q1 compared to the previous quarter; however, total handset unit sales fell 1 percent.

“Apple and Verizon had a very successful launch of the iPhone 4, which allowed the iPhone to expand its market share that was previously held back by its prolonged carrier exclusivity with AT&T,” said Ross Rubin, executive director of industry analysis at NPD.

Smartphones Take the Lead in Overall Handset Sales

According to NPD’s “Mobile Phone Track” consumer tracking service, for the first time a majority (54 percent) of all new mobile-phone handsets purchased by U.S. consumers were smartphones. Driven by increases in smartphone sales in Q1 2011, average selling prices for all mobile phones rose 2 percent over the previous quarter to reach $102; however, average prices for smartphones actually declined by 3 percent (falling to $145).

The Android OS lost ground for the first time since Q2 2009, falling to 50 percent of smartphone unit sales in Q1 2011 compared to 53 percent in the prior quarter. Apple iOS share rose 9 percentage points to comprise 28 percent of smartphone unit sales. Research In Motion’s BlackBerry OS also lost ground, falling 5 points, to 14 percent.

Data Note: The information in this press release is from Mobile Phone Track – NPD’s consumer tracking of U.S. consumers, aged 18 and older, who reported purchasing a mobile phone. NPD does not track corporate/enterprise mobile phone purchases.

Source: The NPD Group, Inc.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple’s iPhone 4 for Verizon, launched in the U.S. on February 10, or in the middle of the quarter that has been measured in the report by NPD. We have not yet seen the full impact of iPhone 4 on Verizon in the U.S.; this is only the first fleeting glimpse — and just wait until iPhone 5 debuts since, after all, iPhone 4 was basically 7-month-old device when it hit Verizon. In addition, the normal lapsing of Verizon’s two-year contracts will further alter the U.S. smartphone market in Apple’s favor as those who settled for pretend iPhones get real iPhones as their contracts end.

As our own SteveJack explained back on December 23, 2009:

iPhone isn’t the Mac, so stop comparing them. To draw an analogy between the Mac and iPhone platforms simply highlights… ignorance of the vast differences between the two business situations. Look at the iPod, not the Mac, to see how this will play out.

Google Android offers the same messy, inconsistent Windows PC “experience,” but without any cost savings, real or perceived. Windows only thrived back in the mid-90s because PCs (and Macs) were so expensive; the upfront cost advantage roped in a lot of people, who were, frankly, ignorant followers who did what their similarly-ignorant co-workers and friends told them to do. Microsoft still coasts along on that momentum today.

I’d call any Android device the “Poor Man’s iPhone,” but you have to spend just as much, if not more, to partake in an increasingly fragmented and inferior platform. There’s no real reason to choose Android, people settle for Android. “I’d have bought an iPhone if Verizon offered them.” Just look what’s happening in any country where iPhone is offered on multiple carriers. It’s a bloodbath.

Apple offers consistency to developers of both software and hardware. Just look at the vibrant third-party accessories market for iPhone vs. the Zune-like handful of oddball items for Android. If you make a case or a vehicle mount, does it pay to make 44 different Android accessories whose total addressable audience numbers under 1 million each, or to make one or two for what’s [well over] 100 million iPhone/iPod touch devices? As Apple’s iPhone expands onto more and more carriers, Android’s only real selling point (“I’m stuck on Verizon or some other carrier that doesn’t offer the iPhone”) evaporates.

30 Comments

    1. Perhaps the general public has been sufficiently battered by Windows on their PCs over the years to realize that Windows on your cell phone really doesn’t sound that appealing? Combined with AppLack, there isn’t a compelling reason for anyone to go to Windows Phone 7 – might as well go Blackberry.

      SteveJack’s commentary matches the opinions of many knowledgeable people in this forum. The cost of handsets is a relatively small portion of the total cost of ownership for a cell phone, and that doesn’t leave a great deal of room for iPhone competitors to profitably undercut Apple. The data/voice contract dominates the TCO, and AT&T and Verizon are busy making sure that those cost stabilize in a highly profitable range – not much competition there. Only Sprint and T-Mobile are competing on cost, and that is because they are the underdogs *and* don’t have the iPhone.

      With the release of the original iPhone, Apple helped to break the cell provider stranglehold on services and reduce the total cost of voice/data service. But pricing has stagnated (or increased, if you count the reductions in bandwidth caps, etc.), and Android has a lot to do with that since it puts the power back in the hands of the cell providers.

      1. If anything, I’m a bit surprised at how quickly WP7 fell on its face. Maybe I’m just being massively charitable, but it seemed like there was a chance to get a bit of a bump out of a new product launch, if only to hopeless geeks and obsessed Xbox users. But they didn’t even get that, in fact there’s almost no perceptible blip in WinMo’s overall steady decline, before and after WP7.
        Yet we’re still to believe so many wise and prescient analysts that continue to push the idea that WP will dominate in a few years because… they say so. If I could make so much money regurgitating the Common Wisdom I’d take that job like a shot.

  1. Said it before, Android is pretty much only popular in the US and on Verizon… Due to not having the iPhone.

    That number will drop more and more as contracts are up with verizon.
    My niece is saving her money now, her contract is up end of june. (i’m betting white iPhone now) Only hurdle she has, my sister. and i’ll work on that end. (niece will be 17 in august)

  2. “Look at the iPod, not the Mac, to see how this will play out.”

    This implies the Mac lost the pc war, and yet Apple’s competitors are losing computer sales to both the Mac and the iPad, while Mac units soar ever higher, with no sign of letting-up. The iOS devices are the bigger story now, but the Mac also continues to gain ground.

      1. That Apple was not beaten in the pc war was obvious to others as well, including myself. Heck I was buying AAPL hand-over-fist while “they” all said Apple was doomed. However, the myth of the defeat of the Mac computer has persisted in misinformed popular mindshare, often referred to with just such a phrase. I just had to correct a corporate exec on this point two days ago, which is why I noticed it here.

        We both agree the Mac didn’t lose, and in fact it is out-flanking pc garbage daily. You’re being overly sensitive.

    1. In games of sport, there are periods, quarters, innings; in prize fighting there are rounds, as in golf; in wars there are skirmishes and battles.

      So it is in tech. Windoze had its day of hegemony, largely unmerited in terms of quality. This is the era of Apple, where brilliance actually baffles bulls**t. Oh happy Day!

  3. I think one thing these analysts forget is that now that the 3GS is given away – here in Canada anyways many buget restricted customers are choosing to take the free iPhone over anything else offered.

  4. Android phones are really just the same as netbooks. They’re just a way of getting a reasonably priced modern mobile computer for mr joe average. Most owners are probably upgrading from four year old razr or Nokia dumbphones.

    Owners of cheap ‘n nasty always aspire to something better. Android is therefore a place people will tend to leave behind and not really want to come back to.

Leave a Reply to m159 Cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.