updated 04:55 pm EST, Tue March 3, 2009
NPD on US Phone Sales
Nearly one quarter of US phones are smartphones and are driven by trends the iPhone put in place, findings from the NPD Group show. About 23 percent of phones fit into the advanced category by the end of 2008, or double the share of a year earlier. Exactly half of these were touchscreen devices, a feat which NPD directly credits to Apple popularizing the format through the iPhone and pushing other carriers and phone makers to follow suit.
"AT&T and the iPhone began the trend of the signature touch-screen smartphone," NPD's industry research director Ross Rubin says.
Apple has also effectively dictated the average asking price for a smartphone in the US, which sat at $216 by the end of 2007 but dipped to $167 a year later following the iPhone's price cut from $399 to $199. Data access over 3G also got a boost as an emphasis on 3G expansion at AT&T, which was helped by the iPhone, meant that two thirds of all smartphones use either EVDO or AT&T's preferred HSPA for getting online.
The analysts nonetheless warn that Apple's pressure on the market is intensifying competition and that its choice of an all-touchscreen design won't necessarily be the most enduring form factor. Each major carrier in the US now has or will have a flagship touchscreen phone: Verizon's BlackBerry Storm, T-Mobile's G1 and Sprint's upcoming Palm Pre all serve as a means of either keeping or swaying customers to their respective networks.
Additionally, 70 percent of smartphones have some form of hardware QWERTY keyboard while some of the highest-profile phones, like the G1 and Pre, are considered crossovers that have both a touch display and a physical keyboard. The result puts Apple in the minority and also support Research in Motion, the majority of whose BlackBerries are built around full keyboards.