NPD: iOS Accounted for 43% of Sales in Q4, But First-Time Smartphone Buyers Chose Android [US]


NPD have released their US smartphone figures for the fourth quarter of 2011. As you’d expect, Android didn’t give up the lead but iOS did come close to taking the crown for that quarter. They grabbed 43% of the share compared to Android’s 48%. These numbers, of course, were due largely in part to the launch of the iPhone 4S and subsequent price drops on previous versions of the phone.

First time buyers preferred Android over iOS, however, with 57% of those folks choosing the former over 34% choosing the latter. This could be explained by the great deals to be had on Android phones during the Holiday season.

Lots of feature phone owners were looking for free or cheap Android phones to ease them into the smartphone world. The general momentum Android has rolled on since its launch still deserves a lot of credit, too.

RIM, Microsoft and Symbian were all shoved into that dreaded “other” category so we can pretty much assume that they’re still largely irrelevant here in the United States.

NPD also showed an interesting stat which showed Samsung were responsible for two of the top five selling devices in the fourth quarter. The Galaxy S II and Galaxy S 4G won fourth and fifth place, respectively. As you might imagine, Apple’s phones accounted for the first three slots.Read on for NPD’s findings.

PORT WASHINGTON, NEW YORK, February 6, 2012 – According to The NPD Group, a leading market research company, Apple leaped past Samsung and LG to become the best-selling U.S. handset brand in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2011. In a quarter that featured the launch of the iPhone 4S and the addition of Sprint, Apple’s three available models combined to capture 43 percent of the U.S. smartphone market in Q4.

“Attracted by a faster processor, improved camera and the Siri speech-driven agent, most iPhone buyers paid a premium for the iPhone 4S, making it the top-selling handset in Q4,” said Ross Rubin, executive director, Connected Intelligence for The NPD Group. “The iPhone 4S outsold the iPhone 4 by 75 percent, and outsold the iPhone 3GS, available for free on AT&T, five to one.”

Together, Android and iPhone accounted for over 90 percent of smartphone sales, with Android holding on to 48 percent of the smartphone market during the quarter; however, Android devices performed better among first-time smartphone buyers. Based on the latest data from The NPD Group’s monthly Smartphone Track service, among the first-time smartphone buyers in Q4, 57 percent purchased Android phones compared to just 34 percent who purchased iPhones.

“Android has been criticized for offering a more complex user experience than its competitors, but the company’s wide carrier support and large app selection is appealing to new smartphone customers,” Rubin said. “Android’s support of LTE at Verizon has also made it the exclusive choice for customers who want to take advantage of that carrier’s fastest network.”

The overall share of mobile phone sales that are smartphones continued to climb in Q4 2011, reaching 68 percent of the total mobile phone market, which is an increase of 18 percentage points since Q4 2010. Based on the latest data from NPD’s monthly Mobile Phone Track service, average selling prices for smartphones increased eight dollars over the prior quarter, reaching $143 in Q4 2011, which is still below average price of $149 in Q4 2010. Led by continued steady sales for Apple’s iPhones, the top five best-selling mobile phone handsets in Q4 were as follows:

Apple iPhone 4S
Apple iPhone 4
Apple iPhone 3GS
Samsung GALAXY S 4G

Information in this press release is from Mobile Phone Track and Smartphone Track, both of which report on the activities of U.S. consumers, age 18 and older, who reported purchasing a mobile phone or smartphone. NPD does not track corporate/enterprise mobile phone purchases.

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.

HTC Ville once more smiles for the camera

Previous article

Swype for Android Update Coming Within the Next Few Days to Add Android 4.0 Support

Next article

You may also like


  1. Well….nothing new…iphone gets repeat buyers.
    You can’t blame them….just stick to what works.

    1. Except it doesn’t. Look at an earlier article where iPhones crash far more than Androids.

      1. Sales numbers show that does matter.

  2. And that’s what had Steve Jobs and Apple so upset, first time adapters are more likely to stay in an ecosystem once they have an investment in it.  As much money as I’ve spent on apps and how much I love Google Music, I doubt I’d ever jump ship.

    1. Two words that really mean I cant even consider moving to IOS:  Google Navigation.

      If all of the other stuff could be moved over for free I still couldn’t because of those two words.  Im not paying $100 a year for the kind of functionality (actually crippled since Google Maps Navi works with voice actions, contact integration, latitude, places, etc).

    2. Yea but how many of these people are buying apps? Android’s higher free app count works against them in this instance.

      1. Not completely true.  Rovio makes millions off of Angry Birds, which they released for free on the Android market.  Add to that, games have come a very long way, there are now tons of them worth paying for.

        1. I agree but Android is setting the precedent that things should be free. If they’re not buying apps on a platform they won’t have second thoughts about switching to other platforms.

  3. Looks like Apple needs to ramp up the lolsuits.

  4. Hmm.. The cheap price most likely helped a lot of first time buyers but long term it might be detrimental. Low end phones that run android straight up suck. They run older versions, almost never (if ever) get updated and the phones lag like all hell.

    This is where WP7 has an advantage as even the low end phones are butter smooth. The trade off with low end phones running WP7 is that they have less advanced features like 5mp cameras instead of 8 or smaller screens, etc.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in News