updated 02:50 pm EST, Tue February 1, 2011
Nielsen says Android, BlackBerry, iPhone tied up
Nielsen in its US smartphone market share update called a rare three-way draw. The iPhone barely maintained its recent lead at the end of last year with 28 percent but was virtually even with Android and BlackBerry, both of which had 27 percent. The trend supported notions that Android was often cannibalizing BlackBerry sales as RIM had fallen over 10 percent from a year ago where Android grew from virtual non-existence in the same time frame.
New phone buyers still suggested the trend would work for Android and against BlackBerry. Apple's share of new buyers has been virtually unchanged for the past year at 26 percent, but Android users now make up 43 percent those who bought a phone in the past six months. BlackBerry buyers have had their share almost cut in half from 38 percent in fall 2009 to 20 percent last year.
The study group didn't attempt to explain the shift, but the plethora of high-end Android phones, mostly at Verizon, would have given Google the edge through numbers. BlackBerrys were once the devices of choice at Verizon and would have lost much of their share as Verizon swung its marketing attention to Motorola and HTC. AT&T's exclusive on the iPhone at the time also capped its potential reach.
Many expect the market share landscape to shift significantly in the winter now that Verizon has the iPhone as well. Although Android is unlikely to see a sharp reversal, Motorola has already said it's seeing sales declines as some would-be Droid buyers are now looking for an iPhone instead.