iPhone 5 sales stronger than Android sales in U.S., new research shows

November 27, 2012
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A new research note reveals that Apple’s iPhone 5 sales helped the company overtake Google when it comes to smartphone OS marketshare in the U.S., for the 12-week period ending on October 28, 2012.

What’s strange about this analysis is that it’s looking, according to Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, at the August 6 – October 28, 2012 period and the new iPhone was officially launched on September 21. So the iPhone 5 was actually on sale for over 5 weeks during that 12-week period.

The smartphone sales analysis provided by KWC  says that strong iPhone 5 sales put iOS back on the number one spot in America, with 48.1% share of U.S. smartphone sales. Comparatively Google’s Android share for the period was at 46.7% for the same period. The company predicts a continued momentum for the iPhone 5, not that we’re surprised to hear that from analysts, considering that we’re in the Christmas quarter, which is likely going to be Apple’s best quarter to date, with iPhone 5 being one of the best-sold devices during the period:

“The last time we saw iOS overtake Android in the US was when the iPhone 4S was released and Apple managed to retain its lead for three consecutive periods. This time we predict that Apple will beat its previous high of 49.3% and achieve its highest ever share of the US smartphone market within the next two periods.”

Furthermore, Apple is seeing share gains in “four of the five major European countries,” although Android was still king in Europe for the same 12-week period. The research reveals that in countries like Germany and Spain Android sales amounted to 73.9% and 81.7% respectively. At the same time iOS was at 32.7% share for the period in the UK, and dropped 5.1% in Germany where the Galaxy S3 accounted for almost 25% of smartphone sales.

The same research reveals that the majority of iPhone 5 buyers in the U.S. are existing iPhone owners. 62% of them have purchased the new iPhone, while 13% of iPhone 5 purchases came from former Android owners. RIM is also losing market share in favor to the iPhone, with 6% of iPhone sales coming from BlackBerry owners.

But does market share really matter that much?

Throughout the year we’re pointed to a variety of research notes from various companies and analysts that are monitoring closely the highly lucrative mobile business. We periodically check out OS market share, profit share and forecast for the coming quarters/years. Add to that the quarterly earnings reports from all the mobile players in the game and you end up with a lot of numbers to crunch.

For Apple, being king of the hill when it comes to market share in the business it’s an active player in is not a must. It certainly helps, but the company is able to make loads of money despite not being the absolute leader in all the niches it has products in – albeit for the iPad, of course.

For Google, market share it’s where the game is at. The company is yet to make any real profits from device sales, although it’s clear that Google does want to sell more and more of its own Android smartphones and tablets. However, the real cash for Google, right now, is in Search. That’s how the giant is able to sustain everything it does, Android included. So having as wide a reach as possible in the mobile universe, which is becoming more and more important for Internet browsing and mobile ads, is very important for Google.

Sure, the fact that the iPhone 5 knocked Android back in second spot in the USA is not troubling considering that, overall, Android is the number one smartphone OS in the world. And Android smartphones are still selling strong, with Google’s latest report saying that it’s now activating 1.3 million units per day.

What about Internet usage?

In addition to market share and financial reports, from time to time we get various notes that look at Internet usage on mobile devices. The last one came in a few days ago from IBM and looked at the mobile devices used to browse through and place Black Friday online orders. That battle was won by Apple, with the iPhone and iPad being the most used devices for such purposes.

And there have been more such studies showing that despite not being the top OS by market share, iOS is a more Internet-friendly environment for users – and by that I mean that more iOS devices are used to browsed the web, not comparing browsing experiences on the two operating systems. With more Android users out there than iOS device owners, one would expect that Android Internet traffic would exceed the traffic generated by iPhones, iPads and iPod touches.

Maybe in addition to focusing on having its latest Android OS version running on various devices as fast as possible after being unveiled, Google should also make sure it markets these devices as Internet-friendly gadgets that can help users get various jobs done via mobile – the Galaxy Note 2 for example can replace to some extent a computer during day-to-day usage, and while not all Android devices out there are as possible, it appears that not all Android owners out there are using them for online-related purposes as one would expect.

Because, again, at the end of the day, Google still needs to make a lot of money from its Search business.

What smartphone did you buy this year?

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