Apple, Android gain share in 2011 U.S. smartphone market as all others decline

According to The NPD Group, Apple’s operating system share of smartphone sales grew to nearly a third (29%) of the U.S. smartphone market from January through October 2011, as Android’s OS share grew to reach 53 percent of the market, and RIM’s OS share declined to 11 percent. RIM and other companies that were formerly on top of NPD’s smartphone rankings, however, have made critical business decisions this past year in a quest to shore up their U.S. smartphone businesses.

“The competitive landscape for smartphones, which has been reshaped by Apple and Google, has ultimately forced every major handset provider through a major transition,” said Ross Rubin, executive director, Connected Intelligence for The NPD Group, in the press release. “For many of them, 2012 will be a critical year in assessing how effective their responses have been.”

Google acquires Motorola

Motorola’s share of smartphone sales once reached more than a third of the smartphone market (36 percent) in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2006; however, the company’s smartphone market share dropped as low as 1 percent by Q3 2009. After adopting Android, Motorola’s share of smartphone sales rose to 16 percent of the market in Q4 2010 before settling back down to 12 percent by Q3 2011. “Android has helped Motorola climb back into the smartphone market; now, though, Google will seek to use Motorola’s patent pool to help protect other Android licensees,” according to Rubin.

The fall of RIM

“Few companies have felt the impact of the shift to touch user interfaces and larger screen sizes as negatively as RIM, but the company is beginning anew with a strong technical foundation and many paths to the platform,” said Rubin. Back in Q2 2006, RIM comprised half of all smartphone sales; however, by Q3 2011 the company had fallen to 8 percent. As it prepares to introduce smartphones on its next-generation platform, RIM is now is ranked fifth among smartphone OEMs, behind Apple, HTC, Samsung, and Motorola.

Nokia does Windows

One of the biggest news stories of the year was Nokia’s agreement with Microsoft to use the Windows Phone operating system on its smartphones. “Nokia and Microsoft must build from almost nothing to carve out success between the consistency of the iPhone and the flexibility of Android,” according to Rubin. Even though Microsoft’s former smartphone operating system, Windows Mobile, peaked at 50 percent of smartphone sales in Q2 2007, Windows Phone 7 by comparison has not achieved more than 2 percent of smartphone sales since launching in Q4 of 2010.

Both “Mobile Phone Track” and “Smartphone Track” report on the activities of U.S. consumers, age 18 and older, who reported purchasing a mobile phone or smartphone. NPD does not track corporate/enterprise mobile phone purchases.

Source: NPD Group, Inc.


  1. I fount it always lame when analytic agencies try to play these cheap tricks with announcing year’s results when it actually not ended. The more, as in this case, when results actually heavily depend on exactly latest quarter of the year and latest month of the quarter (up to 60% of all consumer-related sales in Q4 happen in December).

    So lets see how well the industry and Apple particularly performed in a month from now, in late January of next year.

  2. And always remember that Android’s “smartphone” market share is inflated by cheapo deals that shovel devices into the hands of people who don’t really need or even want a smartphone.

    The evidence is obvious: Android has a majority of market share, but roughly 2/3rds of “smartphone stuff” (web browsing, app buying, ad impressions) happens on iOS. That’s only possible if large numbers of those Android “smartphones” are barely being used.


    1. … it isn’t precisely correct to compare “iPhone” sales to “Android” sales. Android is an OS used by many different models while iPhone is a small group of models that use the iOS OS. Do any of the currently-produced Android models sell close to what any of the currently produced iOS models sell? That’s best-seller vs worst-seller. Not hardly “fair”, but a better example.

  3. 53% for Android total, minus 12% for Motorola leaves 41%. Divide that 2:1 between Samsung and HTC, allot the other 47% amongst the 7 or so non-Android also-rans, and you have to conclude that Apple at 29% has the largest share of the smartphone market by brand in Q4.

  4. “Windows Phone 7 by comparison has not achieved more than 2 percent of smartphone sales since launching in Q4 of 2010”


    That funeral the Windows Mobile ’07 team staged for the iPhone gets more ironic by the moment, doesn’t it?

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