Nielsen tries to figure out who is 'winning' the U.S. smartphone market

Nielsen tries to figure out who is 'winning' the U.S. smartphone market

Summary: Nielsen asks "Who's Winning the Smartphone Market," and the answer could be, "Well, depends on how you look at it."


Lots of reports and studies come out on virtually a daily basis trying to figure out who is leading the smartphone market, whether it be on a quarterly basis, domestic vs. global, and so on.

Market research firm Nielsen has published a new report covering the United States mobile market during the second quarter of 2013, point blank asking "Who's Winning the Smartphone Market?"

The answer could be, "Well, depends on how you look at it."

Arguably, it's never going to be a question anyone could answer definitively given how many factors are involved here. Let's look at how Nielsen broke it down.

For starters, researchers found that 62 percent of mobile subscribers in the U.S. were using smartphones as of the second quarter of 2013.

From there, the tallies are broken down based on operating system and device manufacturer -- both of which really need to be considered separate entities. It's easy to mix them up or not understand the difference (especially when iOS and Apple are so synonymous, but don't forget how big the Android ecosystem is beyond Google.)


From an operating system standpoint, Google's Android appears to have "won" Q2 with 52 percent of the U.S. smartphone market share. Apple's iOS came in second with 40 percent, followed by Blackberry at three percent. Microsoft's Windows Phone and "Others" are tied at two percent each to fill out the rest of the pie.

As for actual device makers, Apple dominated with 40 percent of the manufacturer share by operating system. Samsung still came in second, but it led the pack for the Android ecosystem. Interestingly, it also got a fraction of a boost by making Windows Phone devices too.

That broke down having to 24 percent of the U.S. smartphone manufacturer market share with Android devices and 0.7 percent based on Windows Phone.


HTC, which came in third, experienced a similar outcome with nine percent based on Android and 0.4 percent based on Windows Phone.

Yet even looking at these charts, it's still not so simple in deciding a winner for the quarter -- at least not just one.

On the one hand, it might look like Apple is the big winner based on leading the manufacturer scoreboard on its own and accounting for nearly half of the operating system share too.

But maybe Google is the winner based on leading the OS share and then having such a big (albeit maybe indirect) hand in manufacturer game. (Notably, Google-owned Motorola came in fourth on the latter chart with nine percent.)

Then again, Nielsen researchers highlighted that Windows Phone "continues to grow its base of mobile owners, now accounting for more than 2 percent of the smartphone market," and "most Windows Phone owners choose Nokia’s flagship handsets."

So maybe there is a silver lining for everyone.

Charts via Nielsen

Topics: Mobility, Android, iOS, Smartphones, Tech Industry

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  • That's nice - but it's ONLY the US market

    And it's well known that the US is kind of out of step with the rest of the world (gee, there's a surprise...)

    When you look world wide, the numbers are VERY different.

    For Q2 2013 it's:

    Android 69.5%
    Apple 16.6%
    Windows Phone 3.6%
    Others 10.4%
    (Source: Strategy Analytics Aug 2013 report)

    And if you want to break it down by manufacturer:
    Samsung 30.4%
    Apple 13.1%
    LG 5.1%
    Lenovo 4.7%
    ZTE 4.2%
    Others 42.4%

    And before someone says 'but the US is a big market', yes, yes it is - but Europe is bigger and China and India are even bigger still.
    • Sorry - missed a reference

      The second table is from IDC Worldwide Phone Tracker.
      • Most dont count South America

        Yet its integration process will most likely make it a single economic region by 2020 with nearly 1 billion people of which at least a third will be economically active, making it the 3rd or largest market worldwide, further relegating the US.

        Android obliterates IOs thee because the economical gap. And given the fact that people pay for their phones out right.

        The new C line of iPhones will try and mitigate this. Though when you consider they are up against the mini from Samsung or Lenovos K900 that's better than GS4 at a lower cost. Our the iOcean X7 at 160 smackers make it so tempting. Like Japan before then, quality is now at point where consumers will look at the price over the name. And given that smartphone rarely are used beyond 3 years, if they last that long. Apples share will dwindle like Betamax did so in the past.
    • I think everyone is well aware of that but it's

      interesting because it's where the high margin phone battle is fought. China has more mobile users but with 80% of the population at the poverty level they are buying the $600-$800 phones every two years. Same for India and Africa. The cheap android phones that can't even connect to the play store are gonna outsell iPhone there
      Johnny Vegas
      • Now tell me why Europe is not a high margin battlefield?

        Typically electronics in Eu is more expensive than US. BTW if you can work on your scale large low margin adds up. You don't need Apple's margin to get billions in profit.
    • The figures

      in the article don't add up anyway.

      RIM has a 3% market share, but Blackberry only has 2% market share for OS, so what other non-Blackberry devices are RIM selling?

      Likewise, Nokia + Samsung + HTC add up to 2.1% of Windows Phone sales, which excludes other manufacturers, dumped under other, yet Windows Phone only has 2% market share...
      • Rim and their OS it's 3%

        No mismatch between numbers.
        Windows phone OS makers from the article make 2.3% - not 2.1 - but I guess they are just rounding the numbers of OS share to the unit.
        • Oops

          yes, I confused other and Blackberry.