updated 10:52 pm EST, Thu January 30, 2014
Also gaining ground on Samsung in US; BlackBerry falls to zero percent
The latest report from the Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) panel shows Apple retook its lead in US smartphone marketshare against the combined forces of Android competitors following the release of new iPhone models in October. The figures, which cover the last quarter of 2013, show that iOS outsold Android by 48 percent to 46 percent, Apple outsold rival Samsung 48 to 31 percent, and that BlackBerry has officially fallen to zero percent marketshare.
The BlackBerry figure, which refers only to new sales rather than existing base (which still numbers in the millions in the US and Canada), is yet another blow for the struggling company -- but also means that the company's user base can't be used to "explain" gains for either Android or iOS platforms going forward. Increases for either platform now come almost entirely from new smartphone users or switchers, with feature phone and Windows Phone users accounting for the remaining six percent of US cellphone users.
In the previous quarter, just before the new iPhone announcements, Apple's flagship product had fallen to just 34 percent of the US market, falling behind both Android generally and primarily rival Samsung, which had 38 percent. Apple's rise to 48 percent now dominates Samsung's falling percentage, which dropped to 31 percent in the new study. To combat this, Samsung is thought to be releasing yet another Galaxy S model -- this time the S5 -- in the next quarter.
Though analysts complained that Apple's iPhone sales for the quarter missed their projections, the 51 million units sold was nonetheless a record, and pushed the company to report $13.1 billion in profit -- making Apple the only company in the history of publicly-traded companies that has exceeded $13 billion in profits more than once (this was the third time) -- and was sufficient to get close to a majority share of the entire US cellphone market. LG came in third place in US share, with eight percent share, just-sold Motorola with five percent, followed by HTC (down eight percent to just three percent) and Nokia at two percent.
By platform, the survey served as another reminder that smartphones in the US is a two-horse race between Android and iOS. The latter was able to win the day for the crucial holiday quarter, but each platform had close to half of the market, leaving very little room for Windows Phone (tied with "basic" cellphones at three percent share). BlackBerry's fall from two percent of the US market to less than one percent (rounded to "zero") was still noted in the charts, but will likely be excised in future studies barring any signifiant change, as sales for the once-king of business phones is now too low to affect other companies' shares.
Another aspect of the survey revealed that iOS users spend more on their iPhones (as well as engage more with them) than Android buyers -- another trend noticed in real-world usage studies. Only about seven percent of iPhone users spend less than $50 per month on their cellphone bill, compared to nearly a quarter of Android buyers. Over half of iOS users spend more than $100 a month on phone, text and data services, while only about a third do so on Android.
Monthly bills under $50 a month suggest that more than 60 percent of Android users have very small to no data plans for their devices -- which might explain the routinely-low web browsing and Internet engagement scores for the platform. It also suggests that some critics may be correct in complaining that the iPhone, a full-fledged premium smartphone, is unfairly lumped in with very low-end models that can barely be considered "smartphones," rather than compared with the smaller percentage of models that can genuinely be considered competitors, thought to be fewer than a third of Android phones.