Apple gains share in U.S., even as it drops worldwide


An Apple staff member demonstrates a new Verizon iPhone 4 at Verizon's iPhone 4 launch event in New York, in this file picture taken Jan. 11, 2011. (BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS)
August 8, 2013

Apple’s smartphone share in the United States saw a slight boost over the past few months, comScore reported, setting the U.S. market apart from what appears to be the trend in the rest of the world.

According to comScore’s latest report, Apple picked up a bit of market share in a three-month period ending June 2013, staying in second place but still growing from 39 percent to 39.9 percent. The Cupertino, Calif. company also ranked as the country’s most popular smartphone maker, beating out Samsung, which had 23.7 percent of the market even with growth from its Galaxy S 4 phone factored into the mix.

Android, meanwhile, still leads the U.S. platform market but stayed flat at 52 percent in the smartphone platform race, while third-place BlackBerry fell slightly from 5.2 percent to 4.4 percent.

That was a very different picture of the smartphone market than the global picture IDC reported Wednesday, which estimated that Google’s Android mobile operating system, benefitting from a quiet period between iPhones, had jumped to an 80 percent market share worldwide while Apple’s share fell to 13.2 percent from 16.6 percent. IDC noted, however, that Apple is still poised to pick up share whenever it releases its new phone.

So why the pick up in the United States, even without a new model? One clue to what makes the United States different could come from a look at T-Mobile’s latest earnings report. The carrier said Thursday, of the 4.3 million smartphones it sold last quarter, 1.2 million were iPhones. Kantar Worldpanel had already reported last month that Apple had seen a boost from the T-Mobile iPhone, since it only became available to T-Mobile customers earlier this year.

Another reason for the difference could be that the United States is simply a profoundly different market for smartphones than the rest of the world. It’s no secret that smartphone makers of all stripes are looking to other markets for smartphone growth, such as the Middle East, Latin America, Asia and Africa, where consumers are just starting to adopt smartphones — unlike the United States, where a majority of adults already own one.

Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi said that carriers in the United States are also very different from others around the world, which could further explain why Android’s picking up overseas.

Carriers in the United States, she said, have more control over what products get exposed to consumers and, through subsidies, what products consumers might want to purchase. “Other markets have more mixed channels and not necessarily the same amount of subsidy,” Milanesi told The Washington Post. This makes the often-cheaper phones produced by Android smartphone makers more attractive.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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