Apple Disputes Researcher’s Android Findings

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Apple has labelled a market report on 150,000 US consumers as “limited”, after it concluded that Google Android had overtaken the Apple iPhone OS

Apple has responded to findings from a market researcher which found that Google Android has overtaken the Apple iPhone, and is now the second most popular smartphone OS in the United States, behind BlackBerry phones.

Third Place Not Enough

Previous numbers had put the iPhone OS in second place, contributing to the perception that the iPhone had become the all-conquering Genghis Khan of the smartphone market.

In a research note released 10 May, NPD Group said Android had supplanted iPhone as the number two smartphone operating system in the United States. Specifically, analysts’ calculations pegged Android at 28 percent of the overall market, followed by iPhone with 21 percent; meanwhile, BlackBerry maker Research In Motion held the top spot with 36 percent.

That data runs somewhat counter to other analyst companies’ recent findings.

ComScore, for example, found that Android occupied 9 percent of the US smartphone market between December and February, while iPhone held a comfortable lead with 25 percent. IDC said iPhone sales for the first quarter of 2010 totaled 8.8 million units, outpacing the 5-million-combined unit sales of HTC and Motorola, the most prolific Android smartphone manufacturers; however, the mathematical possibility exists that sales from other manufacturers, including Samsung, were enough to push Android past iPhone.

Apple Not Pleased

Whatever the accuracy of these companies’ final data, the allegation that Android had reduced iPhone to the third-biggest kid on the playground was enough to draw a reaction from Apple. That reaction, understandably, was not very pleased.

“This is a very limited report on 150,000 US consumers responding to an online survey and does not account for the more than 85 million iPhone and iPod Touch customers worldwide,” Apple spokesperson Natalie Harrison told Reuters 11 May. “We had a record quarter with iPhone sales growing by 131 percent, and with our new iPhone OS 4.0 software coming this summer, we see no signs of the competition catching up any time soon.”

Carriers such as Verizon Wireless have been heavily marketing mobile devices running Android, and those promotions have undoubtedly contributed to a rapid uptake of smartphones such as the Motorola Droid and Droid Eris.

“As in the past, carrier distribution and promotion have played a crucial role in determining smartphone market share,” said Ross Rubin, executive director of industry analysis for NPD. “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.”

However, Apple could very well regain market momentum by summer, when iPhone OS 4, with new features such as multitasking, will be released.

Expectations are high that Apple will also debut a new iPhone device, one that very possibly includes the various hardware features – including a front-facing camera for video conferencing – seen in an Apple smartphone prototype lost in a California bar and dissected in April by tech blog Gizmodo, and more recently on a Vietnamese website.

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