Android passes iPhone among new shoppers for first time

By Olga Kharif
Monday, August 2, 2010; 3:52 PM

Aug. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Google Inc.'s Android software outsold Apple Inc.'s mobile operating system for the first time last quarter among new U.S. smartphone users, according to Nielsen Co.

Android had 27 percent of the U.S. market in the second quarter, compared with 23 percent for the Apple iPhone OS, known as iOS, Nielsen said on its website today. Research In Motion Ltd. clung to its leading position, with 33 percent share.

Manufacturers such as Motorola Inc. and HTC Corp. used Android in a wider range of handsets, giving new smartphone purchasers more options. Still, the iPhone retained a higher share than Android among existing smartphone users, according to Nielsen's research.

"There's a massive hunger for smartphones, and the Android universe came out not just with one blockbuster device but with a whole series of blockbuster devices," Roger Entner, head of telecom research at Nielsen, said in an interview.

Motorola's Droid is sold through Verizon Wireless, the largest U.S. mobile-phone service provider. Sprint Nextel Corp. introduced the Evo 4G, made by HTC, in June.

Android's U.S. success may mean Google will overtake Apple's iOS globally earlier than previously expected, said Will Stofega, program director at research firm IDC in Framingham, Massachusetts. Earlier this year, IDC said it expected Android to overtake Apple's iOS globally in 2011.

"It could happen sooner," Stofega said.

'Feasting on BlackBerry, Windows'

RIM's BlackBerry operating system commanded 35 percent of the overall U.S. smartphone market. Still, among the group of newcomers to smartphones, BlackBerry's market share dropped to 33 percent from 45 percent a year earlier, Nielsen said.

Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Phone software also lost popularity with new users. Its share fell to 11 percent last quarter from 20 percent a year earlier, according to Nielsen.

"Android is feasting on BlackBerry and on Windows," Entner said.

Microsoft is trying to revive demand for its mobile software with the release of Windows Phone 7 this year. RIM tomorrow may introduce a new version of its software, BlackBerry 6, Shaw Wu, an analyst at Kaufman Bros., wrote in a research note.

Some of the decline in popularity for the Apple operating system may have come as consumers put off purchases before the June introduction of the iPhone 4, Entner said. Apple may regain share in the third quarter, he said.

Among all U.S. smartphone subscribers, Apple's share increased to 28 percent last quarter from 21 percent a year earlier, according to Nielsen. Android's share among all U.S. smartphone subscribers rose to 13 percent from 2 percent.

Google, based in Mountain View, California, rose $6.58, or 1.4 percent, to $491.43 at 3:34 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. Apple gained $4.82, or 2 percent, to $262.07.

© 2010 The Washington Post Company