Nielsen: Smartphones Poised To Take Half Of Market

By March 31, 2012

With nearly half of mobile subscribers in the United States now choosing smartphones, new data shows that Google‘s Android operating system still has the most users, but Apple‘s iOS is gaining traction faster. And, to almost nobody’s surprise, once-viable alternatives like WebOS and Blackberry are slipping quickly.

The writing is on the wall, says information firm Nielsen; Consumers are adopting smartphones over feature phones. The remaining question is how that trend will play out between Google and Apple – or any other developers that manage to establish a foothold in the competitive market.

“This growth is driven by increasing smartphone adoption, as more than two-thirds of those who acquired a new mobile device in the last three months chose a smartphone over a feature phone,” reads an update on Nielsen Wire.

It’s striking how quickly smartphones have become so important to the mobile market. Just last February, only 36 percent of mobile subscribers owned smart phones. At the head of the pack are devices based on Google’s Android operating system.

“Overall, Android continues to lead the smartphone market in the U.S,” the researchers wrote.

A clear loser in the new data is Blackberry manufacturer Research In Motion. While 12 percent of smartphone users still have a Blackberry device, just five percent of smartphone purchases in the past three months were Blackberries. RIM, an early leader in the smartphone market, has struggled to adapt to the emphasis on touch screens and intuitive user interfaces that has brought iOS and Android to the fore in recent years.

Forty-eight percent of smartphone users overall use Android, the same proportion as new adopters. And during the same three month period, 43 percent of new smartphone users chose iOS, compared to the 32 percent share Apple holds on the mobile market overall.

Image: Neilsen

Meanwhile, some international providers are struggling to woo consumers with high speed data connections for their devices. According to ABI Research, overwhelming numbers of mobile subscribers in India are still using EDGE connections. State- and privately-owned wireless enterprises in that nation are struggling to convince consumers to upgrade to faster connections.

Nielsen is a research firm based in New York.

Image: Nielsen