September 1, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka
In 2010, 3 out of 10 phones used in the United States were smartphones. That percent has since risen to 4 out of 10 according to new data from Nielsen.
The vast majority of phones used in the U.S. are feature phones for a combination of reasons. Carriers attract customers with free or cheap phones, many people cannot afford a smartphone, and a large portion of the population has not yet been convinced that a smartphone is worth having.
Since smartphones opened new revenue streams for data, messaging, and other services on top of standard monthly contracts, carriers have heavily promoted their smartphone offerings. That has helped increase the number of smartphone users, most of whom are opting for Android.
In the months between May and July 2011, Android accounted for 40 percent of smartphone OS share, according to Nielsen. Similar agencies have reported about the same number in recent weeks. While the iPhone ranks second at 28 percent, the top two platforms are in a much tighter race when it comes to attracting the late adopters who may be upgrading their phones soon.
Nielsen polled people to learn what smartphone OS they are likely to choose in their next phone purchase. Android is favored by the hardcore techies (“Innovators”), but early adopters prefer iPhones slightly, and there are so many unsure late adopters that things could go either way. Long-waiting times for popular Android devices and uncertainty about the iPhone – both if a new version is coming and which carriers will offer it – likely contribute to that indecision. Perhaps the slew of Android phones announced recently might sway opinions, or perhaps the appeal of a shiny new iPhone will be too good to pass up.
Either way, both platforms are doing better than rivals attempting to build the smartphone population. Microsoft is having a hard time convincing Windows Mobile users to upgrade to Windows Phone 7 based on Nielsen’s data.