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

Nielsen asks "Who's Winning the Smartphone Market," and the answer could be, "Well, depends on how you look at it."
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

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

Editorial standards