Apple was named the best-selling U.S. handset brand during the fourth quarter, according to a new report from the NPD Group.
However, the findings suggest that while iOS has won this battle, Android is really winning the war.
Take a look at the graph below:
Not only do 48 percent of all smartphone buyers own Android smartphones (versus a close 43 percent on iOS), there is a much bigger disparity for first-time smartphone buyers. Android is attracting more than half of them at 57 percent, while Apple is considerably behind at 34 percent.
There are several possible contributing factors here. Ross Rubin, executive director, Connected Intelligence for The NPD Group, explained in the report that Android's "large app selection" is appealing, and he also pointed towards "Android’s support of LTE at Verizon has also made it the exclusive choice for customers who want to take advantage of that carrier’s fastest network."
Another possible reason for Android's success is that there are simply more buying options (i.e. pricing, features, carriers, etc.) provided by Google's OEM partners than the three models offered by Apple (the iPhone 3G, 4, and 4S).
However, that strategy is a double-edged sword. The problem for Android here is its fragmentation situation, and that there is not a single mobile OEM brand (like Apple) that is securing such a majority of the market share.
For the most part, LG and Samsung are the leaders here -- Samsung doing particularly well as it secured the top spot in the global smartphone market share in 2011 and continued its lead in the U.S. (according to comScore) through December.
Nevertheless, while both Apple and Google have smartphone market successes to celebrate here, it really depends on how you want to look at the situation. Apple's sales are impressive considering how few smartphones they offer and only release a new model each year, while Android controls the majority of the spectrum with many different OEM players rather than just one.
Chart via NPD Group
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