Android phone sales blow by iPhone in U.S.

Apple Inc.’s iPhone might still be grabbing the lion’s share of headlines, but phones powered by Google’s Android operating system actually outsold iPhones in the United States in Q1, according to market watcher NPD’s latest numbers.

NPD Group, which bases its findings based on 150,000-plus online consumer research surveys, found that Android phones such as the Droid and Droid Eris took a combined 28 per cent share of the U.S. market for units shipped in Q1, second to RIM at 36 per cent and ahead of Apple at 21 per cent. 

“As in the past, carrier distribution and promotion have played a crucial role in determining smart phone market share,” said Ross Rubin, executive director of industry analysis for NPD, in a statement.  ”In order to compete with the iPhone, Verizon Wireless has expanded its buy-one-get-one offer beyond RIM devices to now include all of their smartphones.”

AT&T had 32 per cent market share in Q1, followed by Verizon (30 per cent), T-Mobile (17 per cent) and Sprint (15 per cent).

Mobile phone surveys are surfacing almost as fast as new phone models themselves.

According to Chitika Research’s latest numbers, Android phones had a little more than a third as many impressions as iPhones in April, up from 23.5 per cent in January. Chitika based its figures on more than 18.5 million impressions across its advertising network in North America.

AdMob, another online advertising company, also released smart phone numbers recently and found that Apple continues to dominate the worldwide and U.S. mobile handset markets with its iPhone and iPod Touch devices, but makers of Android phones are gaining ground.

Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch accounted for 37 per cent of worldwide device share in March based on traffic, down from 40 per cent in both January and February, according to AdMob. The share dropped from 43 per cent to 38 per cent in the United States. Meanwhile, Motorola inched up in the U.S. on the strength of its Android-powered Droid smartphone.

The Android OS is coming at Apple from all angles, even to the point where the mobile operating system has been ported to iPhone hardware, including the iPhone 3G.

All this isn’t to say that the iPhone is fading. Fresh IDC data shows that Apple – with 8.8 million units sold globally in Q1 — had the biggest Q1 increase of any smart phone maker in large part due to iPhone availability well beyond North America.What’s more, an iPhone 4G is expected by many industry watchers to be unveiled at Apple’s quickly sold out Worldwide Developers Conference. Apple, meanwhile, has also been teasing customers with beta releases of its latest iPhone OS.

Back to the NPD survey, a couple of other bits of interesting data: The average selling price for all mobile phones in Q1 increased 5 per cent from the year before to $88. Smart phone pricing fell 3 per cent over that span to $151.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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