NPD: Apple iPhone takes U.S. market share crown with 31 percent; tops Samsung handily

According to The NPD Group, a leading market research company, driven by sales of pre-paid smartphones, total smartphone unit-volume sales rose 9 percent in the second quarter (Q2) of 2012, compared to Q2 2011. While year-over-year post-paid smartphone unit sales were flat, pre-paid smartphone unit volume almost doubled, rising 91 percent year over year.

“Prepaid smartphones are no longer just cheap, also-ran options, focused on older and less capable phones,” said Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at The NPD Group, in the press release. “As the smartphone market matures, and as growth slows, carriers have been smart to aggressively market some of their best current smartphones on a pre-paid basis to a new set of customers, in order to keep sales humming along.”

Based on NPD’s monthly Mobile Phone Track service, the income level of the average smartphone buyer is shifting downward, from middle- and upper-income families, to those with lower annual household incomes. In Q2 2011 24 percent of smartphone buyers had average household incomes of less than $35,000 per year; however, in Q2 2012 that number jumped to 33 percent. This year 71 percent of pre-paid smartphone buyers had an average income less than $35,000, which is a 12 percentage-point rise over the prior year.

Apple and Samsung Top Smartphone Brands

NPD’s research also revealed that the lion’s share of smartphone-market growth is concentrated in the top two brands. In fact Samsung’s and Apple’s combined smartphone unit sales rose 43 percent between Q2 2011 and Q2 2012, as unit sales for other brands fell 16 percent.

According to NPD, the top five smartphone brands, and their market shares, in Q2 were as follows:

1. Apple: 31 percent
2. Samsung: 24 percent
3. HTC: 15 percent
4. Motorola: 12 percent
5. LG: 6 percent

“By concentrating on their best, flagship devices, while at the same time supplementing their volumes with lower priced alternatives, both Apple and Samsung are extending their lead over the other smartphone makers,” said Baker. “To be a share leader means participating in all segments of the market, in order to take advantage of pre-paid and other growth opportunities, while also providing the hero devices that drive customers to your brand.”

NPD: YOY U.S. smartphone growth Q211-Q212

NPD’s Mobile Phone Track and Smartphone Track both 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: The NPD Group, Inc.


    1. Yea I noticed that too. It closed down slightly over a dollar and then went up about .40 after hours. Then this morning it showed yesterdays close down over $3. I can’t believe it hasn’t been addressed by any media.

  1. For anyone with basic math skills, it is clear that prepaid is a much better deal than contract. While it is a bit difficult to directly compare prepaid monthly plans with those under two-year contracts, in general, plans with similar features are usually twice as much on contract (per month) than on prepaid. Most prepaid carriers offer all-you-can-eat (unlimited all) plans for $50 (with heavy throttling data limits) and more (with less throttling limits). Comparable individual two-year unlimited-all plans from major carriers are well above $100 (when all taxes, fees, assessments and charges are included). Prepaid plans always include all the surcharges and regulatory fees, and only local retail tax is added to the actual plan rate.

    Android will always have an advantage with prepaid plans; while the cheapest iPhone4 on prepaid is still at least $550 (and once the next iPhone arrives, the 4S might drop to $550 and 4 to $450), the cheapest prepaid Android phone can be had for well under $100. For many people, there isn’t substantial difference between iOS and Android, so they’ll get a $100 Android phone (which gives them access to the same “Google Play” market place as the $500 Samsung)

    1. the greatest advantage of pre-paid is if your carrier starts screwin’ you over and you have to call them every month regarding overcharges and mystery fees…you can tell em to go fuck themselves and select another carrier. Consumer choice is the lynchpin of fair market forces.

    1. Agent is correct. Noticeable slowdown in iPhone 4S sales as savvy consumers await the next generation phone.

      IDC reports that Android phones accounted for 68.1% of sales in the 2nd quarter, iOS is 16.9%. Hell, even MS win-mob phones jumped up to a 5.4% market share, a dramatic jump up compared to the MDN’s biased and US-centric narrative that nobody buys MS products.

      The iPhone sales didn’t even outpace global smartphone market growth. If Apple leadership doesn’t get their innovation engine back online, it will remain a margin player in the phone market too.

  2. here you go again. it’s US only data. what about world phone market share? andriod is still a king. do you think that iphone is cheaper in other countries? NO. it’s only cheaper in US. that’s why people choose android phone more. nowadays, android os is very simple, convenient, faster. people buy more samsung galaxy than iphone crap. eventually, apple has lost market share year to year worldwide. it’s only a good business in US.

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