Android Surpasses The iPhone In The United States


While the iPhone is still an entirely different beast worldwide, Apple and Google’s main fronts are in the United States, and a shift has occurred (and, thankfully, we’re not talking about plates within the earth’s crust): Android has taken over the iPhone’s US install base (as was predicted by an AdMob mobile metrics report that gave us a similar preview). NPD Group is reporting that – in Q1 2010 – Android has become the second-most installed smartphone OS in the United States with 28% market share – coming just beneath RIM’s Blackberry OS (enjoying 36% of the  market share).


iPhone OS, on the other hand, currently sits at 21% in third place. I’d imagine that the US smartphone market is very important for all of the vendors, and Android’s proving that it can hold its own against the iPhone and – soon – possibly Blackberry. Executive director of industry analysis for NPD Group, Ross Rubin, says:

“As in the past, carrier distribution and promotion have played a crucial role in determining smartphone market share. 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.”

With RIM, Microsoft, Apple, and Nokia all set to release new versions of their OS, Palm hoping to make a comeback with HP pulling their strings, and new operating systems seemingly popping up every day, the smartphone war will only get crazier from here and – as Phandroids – it’s great to see that Android has more than just a fighting chance.

[Thanks, Phonescoop!]

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. The wording of the press release is a little confusing.

    As much as I hope this is true, I’m not sure the release isn’t just talking about sales during Q1, rather than overall install base.

    Here’s the pertinent paragraph:
    The Android operating system (OS) continued to shake up the U.S. mobile phone market in the first quarter (Q1) of 2010, moving past Apple to take the number-two position among smartphone operating systems, according to The NPD Group, a leading market research company. NPD’s wireless market research reveals that based on unit sales to consumers last quarter the Android operating system moved into second position at 28 percent behind RIM’s OS (36 percent) and ahead of Apple’s OS (21 percent).

    So, 2nd place for all time, or for the quarter?

    Either way, good news for Android fans!

  2. Now I want to be happy and start rubbing it in but something doesn’t seem right. Are they sure this is installed base? How did Android so quickly jump from 9% to 28%? Or have we really not been seeing numbers of total sales and have been focused on top devices like the Droid line?

  3. Hopefully this will reassure devs to continue to support our app market!

  4. Apple had better find some more people to sue.. quick!

  5. Phil wrote on May 10, 2010

    I’m thinking that was the international share, Phil. Not sure.

  6. Phil, the report for for new handset sales Q1 2010. It is not a measure of installation base. It is a measurement of current sales.

  7. I think there is a spike in consumer response to Android. I have a few relatives who were iPhone junkies, but now they are switching to Android for some reason. When I ask them why, they respond with how they always hear good things about android and that android seems like it can do what they want it to do. AND they all are looking for either HTC or Motorola phones for their Android fix. When I say iPhone junkies, I mean people in the age 40+ bracket, not just gadget geeks like us. I credit it to word of mouth and ad awareness via Verizon’s ‘Drooooid!’ commercials. Even though it is for Verizon, people who are AT&T customers also see these ads.

    Good job Android! :)

  8. @Phil its 28% of sales for the Q1 of 2010, not the total amount among the population.

  9. Great way to start a Monday!! Android FTW!!

  10. YEAH BABY!
    lets do it, it was only a matter of time. I honestly don’t know why you would buy an iphone, when there are superior android phones and the android market is also expanding exponentially. keep it up android !

  11. I went digging around and apparently this is the sales for Q1. Android shipped on more units in Q1 than iPhones. I don’t know if people call that market share vs total number of units in hand. At any rate this can be nothing but good for the app market.

    Now off to find the iFools claiming its interest in the iPad or people waiting on the iPhone HD4GSwhatever that slowed sales lol. Now what will really be killer is if Android ships more units even after the new iPhone is launched.

  12. I’ve seen some of the blog sites reporting this, and the Appholes have already started giving excuses for Apple, making future predictions about the next iPhone, and attacking NPD group’s credibility.

  13. this could be because people are waiting for the new iphone and doesn’t want to waste money on the iphone 3gs.

  14. steve jobs must be thinking -> there are too many porn lovers in US, maybe it was a mistake to shun porn in appstore lol

  15. Phil asked about how did the android share jump so quickly. The answer might be Verizon’s marketing. I am a long time Verizon subscriber and a few weeks ago they called me up and told me I could upgrade my phone 6 months before my 2 year contract was up also that I could get an HTC Eris for $29 (after rebate). Sounded like a good deal to me so I became one of those new android users. If Verizon is letting large numbers of customers upgrade prior to their 2 year contracts being up that could have released a big surge of pent up demand.

    (BTW you can update Android from 1.5 to 2.1 on the Eris now).

  16. iFools really crack me up. Sure the new iPhone is going to see big. And then the Evo will drop…and then the Galaxy S…the Dell phones…Motorola’ Shadow…and who knows what else before the year is out. They simply aren’t going to be able to outsell Android any more. Its a better OS (still beating the iPhone OS 4) that gives you a choice of form factors on a choice of networks. The whole gig about simplicity is up. People are realizing that simplicity for Apple means “we just won’t give you features that we believe will confuse you”.
    And to think…this wasn’t supposed to start happening until next year.

  17. Wow.

    The Apple fanboys in the media are pissing their panties over this ‘shocking’ news.

    NPD isn’t reliable.

    Just wait for the next iPhone!

    These numbers don’t count because Apple is on only 1 network.

    It is absolutely sickening to see how many shills Apple has working for it full time in the media.

  18. This is “units sold” metric.
    And a cross-platform OS will always outsell closed crap like Apple. Look at PC vs. Apple market. Free market always wins.

  19. I participate in NPD surveys, and I am one of those people who switched over to Android from another mobile OS.

    NPD has been asking good questions on their surveys regarding mobile tech.

    As a Microsoft fan/user, I am quite interested in their forthcoming WP7, but it’s going to have to be revolutionary rather than evolutionary, for me to switch back from DROID.

  20. @Vlad

    I’ve been telling people for what seems like years, but has only been months I guess. Android strategy of “killing the iPhone” was not about any single phone.

    It’s funny how fanboys used to laugh, oh this is the new iPHone killer let’s see, not realizing all the while that the chips were just being stacked up, one Android phone at a time.

    Goobye iCrap!!

  21. Wow. It took “Son” all of 5 seconds after I posted to prove my point for me.

  22. Android will keep going forward with better phones, and the OS will keep getting better and flash 10 on deck there is really one way to go at this point.

  23. Well, don’t forget the number of 2 for 1 offers on Android phones. That may skew the results a little.

    Also, I think to be fair we have to acknowledge that a lot of potential iPhone purchasers are waiting for the new model to appear, so sales of the iPhone 3GS are probably pretty sluggish right now. I’m sure iPhone sales will skyrocket as usual when the new model is released.

  24. Not sure how many of you read Engadget or other blog sites, but anyone notice that Engadget has not reported on this significant smartphone news story… I wonder why?

    But I think I know why ;-).

  25. I called this two weeks ago: http://armdevices.net/2010/04/27/android-selling-faster-than-iphone/

    Android market share will constantly expand until it reaches 100%.

    At one point even Nokia, Apple, HP, Intel and Microsoft will be using Android.

    The next big push in Android increasing market share will be the venue of the CHEAP Android phones. Really cheap. Below $200 and most importantly:
    – No contracts
    – Pre-paid plans
    – Free Google Voice VOIP on WiFi, even possibly free Google Voice out of contracts on WiMax, LTE, White Spaces and other such wireless data networks. Likely even Google can make a deal with T-Mobile to provide FREE 3G VOIP on Google Voice for all Android devices.

    When you look at the numbers, it would cost Google less than $0.20 per phone per month to provide it with ample enough 1 hour VOIP calls per day, as Google for sure can buy bandwidth on 3G from T-Mobile or Sprint for $1 per GB as they can buy Millions of GB/month to provide free Google Voice VOIP edition for all future sub-$100 out of contract Android phones.

  26. Engadget had reported on this also.

  27. iPhone has one thing working against it. Apples once-a-year hardware upgrades can’t keep pace with the open Android system that keeps dropping new phones on us every couple weeks. Don’t get me wrong, iPhone is great, but they will lose the customers who want to have the newest hardware/capabilities from their phones. iPhone will continue to sell well, they just won’t be able to keep up with the stream of Android phones coming from the various manufacturers.

  28. http://www.engadget.com/2010/05/10/npd-android-ousts-iphone-os-for-second-place-in-us-smartphone-m/

    not always the top of the news. but check the mobile section of endgadget

  29. It isn’t the install base it is Q1/2010 sales. The iPhone still has a far greater install base than Android in the U.S. Granted it is only a matter of time before Android surpasses the iPhone in the U.S. but that won’t be at least for another 1.5 to 2 years from now.

  30. This is a huge accomplishment for Android, but seriously this article is a major fail. The survey is reporting first quarter sales, not accumulated install base. From the first paragraph of the linked release:

    “NPD’s wireless market research reveals that based on unit sales to consumers last quarter the Android operating system moved into second position at 28 percent behind RIM’s OS (36 percent) and ahead of Apple’s OS (21 percent).”

    So please lose the phrases that mischaracterize this data. Android has NOT “taken over the iPhone’s US install base” or “become the second-most installed smartphone.”

  31. Thank god i came across this article. I was about to waste my whole pocket money ( i m a kid, 15 yrs) on iphone 3gs. dunno much about all this but iphone supports multitasking, does android also support multitasking ???

  32. Better phones to access the plethora of themes, Asian girl pics and the numerous news apps,ring back photos. Yeah the market is doing a really good job of getting us some quality apps. What good is a faster phone when the content it access is just garbage?

  33. Can someone please explain ??? i asked a question above.

  34. How long until Apple intimidates/bullies the people responsible for this data and has it retracted? Hell, they bullied Ellen over a simple joke, somebody in Cupertino will be reaking havoc this week.

  35. Update on my post, at my time of posting Engadget had not yet reported this story, they did as of 12:23pm EST… after it’s been everywhere else… saving face is important.

  36. @Cybersedan
    engadget loves android…
    If you are looking for some apple fanbois go to gizmodo.

  37. In this respect and I’m not an iphone fan but its not fair to compare android too iphone as an installed os iphone is on 1 phone only while android is on multiple phones…

  38. @Brad,
    actually it is fair. We are looking at the OS, and how many phones using that OS were shipped/made etc. Compared to how many phones with the Iphone OS were shipped or whatever. It is not anyones fault that Apples mobile OS is only on one phone. In fact they have 3 phones out with their OS.

  39. Re. Kenta’s reply #21.

    Don’t be an idiot. Try visiting the Android Market and look at the just in section. every day, more and more high end high quality aps that use to be exclusively available for the Ipod are being ported over to Android. Also every survey that’s been done of app developers recently shows that most are looking to or actively working on porting their apps to Android. So how about not making shit up and sticking to the facts.

    Oh and we have porn to. ;o)

  40. A lot of gloating in this thread. Now to play devil’s advocate:

    Considering that these numbers only represent Q1 sales and not total market share, it appears that Blackberry is increasing its lead over Android in spite of having no major releases since last year. Android has had several…

  41. Blackberry is practically giving away their phones from all the ads I see these days.

  42. @Hunter Pritchett

    I tend to disagree, but we’re all entitled to our opinions. From my personal experience looking at their articles / reviews, I beg to differ.

  43. Steve Jobs is probably going to be sulking about this and make another stupid statement in the press.

    Wait till the HTC Evo comes out, then Android will reign supreme over blackberry and iphone…ha ha ha

  44. It is one quarters sales results people!

    Let’s keep it in perspective!

    I just want Android to be successful and actively supported by both the phone makers and software providers, at least for the time I am using it!

    Android does not need to kill the iPhone OS or any other mobile OS system. IMO (although, I would not shed much of a tear if it did!….j/k =) )

    In this case business competition is good potentially healthy (for you and me and our economy)!

    This is not a winner takes all situation. There will always be players that leapfrog each other.

    The “Best” device is the one that does what you need it to do, when you need it to do it! IMO

    For me, right now, that is my Droooiid! =P

  45. If the iPhone was on all 4 carriers like the Android phones, it would be a wayyy different story. Phones on multiple carriers will always outsell ones that are on just one. Why are people surprised at this?

  46. In other news… Ford outsold Bugatti in Q1 2010… that Veyron must me a POS compared to the new Focus.

  47. As most folks mentioned, this isn’t installed base, it’s quarterly sales.

    I think many people have predicted Android’s eclipsing iPhone is only a matter of when, not if. I certainly did.. just not this early.

    My predictions: 2Q2010 will also see Android over iPhone. 3Q2010 will include the new iPhone, and iPhone sales will clobber Android sales, since most 2G and any remaining original 1G iPhone users will be upgrading. That is, assuming most upgrade to the new iPhone. And since upgrades are based on contracts expiring, this might even carry over to 4Q2010.

    I had also expected that Android’s dominance will come internationally before the USA. The iPhone is stronger in the US than anywhere else. Android, on the other hand, is getting international support. For example, China Mobile is pushing Android hard, and seeking more Android phones to offer. China Mobile is a technical issue, since they use GSM for 2G but a proprietary technology for 3G… but they also have more customers than there are people in the USA (508 million customers). So Android on China Mobile is significant.

    I think the important thing to Android “Phans” like us… it’s pretty clear that Android is making significant progress. It’s past critical mass.. it’s not going to fail, it’s going to keep growing. That’s really what should matter.

    I do believe it’ll beat out the iPhone, in sales and in apps… in fact, Apple seems to be helping Android by being so bad to their developers, even disallowing any development language other than Apple’s three choices (yup… even if you want to create your own native iPhoneOS language, Apple won’t support apps from it in the iTunes store). I have personal reasons to want to see Apple knocked down a few notches, to enjoy schadenfreude at their expense when this happens. But it’s not necessary to see Android success… maybe just a fringe benefit.

  48. I should also mention, “installed base” is a hard one to predict with these devices. Apple like to say they’ve sold 80-something-million iPhoneOS devices (iPhones, iPads, and iPods Touch), but how many are still in use? You probably can’t count any iPhone much over two years old in the USA or three in Canada as likely to still be in use. Real installed base is going to be difficult to assess.

  49. My previous comment was removed. Someone didn’t like my pun on the word phail.

    It remains the case that “most installed” is a deceptive phrase that doesn’t tell you what’s going on. It suggests that this study measures the install base. Which is the phrase used in the sentence before. Saying “install base” is another piece of deception. Install base is the number of users. NPD aren’t measuring this so its crap reporting.

  50. @kirk Bad analogy since iPhone is old, dated technology. This is more like Ferrari outselling the VW Beetle. Sure, the Beetle is quaint and still desirable, but it’s no Ferrari.

  51. I Love how all of the Android fans are on this website talking about the iphone. I bet now since the new iphone came out, everyone here is now in denial about the iphone. Simply put, iPhone rules, Android people can suck it!

  52. It doesn’t matter what android does until they find a way to make a battery that last!

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