Android’s lead on iPhone among new smartphone buyers shrinks in Q4 2011

Android has enjoyed multiple quarters as the leading smartphone operating system in the United States. And though that lead remains, the gap between Android and its biggest competitor, Apple’s iOS, is more narrow than it has been in quite some time.

Nielsen reports that in Q4 2011, 46.3 percent of smartphone owners surveyed reported that their phone is based on Android. That was high enough to make Android No. 1, but the iPhone enjoyed a strong showing among people who recently purchased a smartphone. From October 2011 to December 2011, the percentage of people who reported getting a new iPhone rose from 25.1 to 44.5 percent. Meanwhile, Android dropped from 61.6 to 46.9 percent.

The iPhone 4S was a massive seller for Apple, and helped put the company on near equal-footing with Android among recent smartphone buyers. That’s important because competition between the two platforms will intensify most among new smartphone buyers. A large number of consumers have already chosen one or the other, but only 46 percent of respondents in Nielsen’s survey report owning a smartphone. That still leaves more than half the country, who are adopting smartphones at an increasing rate, up for grabs.

Why does that matter? Well, for a long time, Android app quality and diversity suffered because of developers, large and small, focusing on iOS because of the higher earning potential. The sheer number of Android users that came later created a situation where developers pretty much have to support Android. Going forward, it’s important that Android is able to keep its duopoly with iOS going so developers and carriers continue to support it as much as they have recently.

« »