Nielsen compiled data about smartphone buying habits in the three-month period ending in February, and the news isn't good for Research In Motion or Microsoft. Though 49.7% of U.S. mobile subscribers now own smartphones, barely any of them are new BlackBerrys or new Windows Phones.
Nielsen looked at two different sets of data: all smartphones owners, and those who've purchased smartphones in the last three months.
Starting with recent acquirers, Android remains the king of smartphone platforms. Of those who bought smartphones within the last three months, 48% surveyed in February said they picked an Android device over rivals. (Nielsen didn't break things down by handset, only by platform.)
Surprisingly, Apple was not far behind Android during the same period, with 43% of recent acquirers saying they purchased an iPhone. That's up markedly from the previous three-month period. Apple's close proximity to Android in new purchases is surely due to the October launch of the iPhone 4S.
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While the news is good for Apple and Google, RIM and Microsoft need to be worried.
In the last three months, only 5% of new smartphone purchasers admitted to buying a BlackBerry. RIM released a range of new BlackBerrys last August, which run BlackBerry 7. Though these devices are fine smartphones, they aren't competitive when placed next to the Android devices and iPhones in wireless network retail stores. The proof is in the sales figures and decline of market share. To top it off, BlackBerry owners aren't all that satisfied with their handsets.
What of Microsoft? Its Windows Phone platform falls into the "Other" category of smartphone owners, which totals just 4% of recent acquirers. That 4% figure also includes webOS devices and the legacy Windows Mobile platform. This is despite the warm reception the Lumia 710 has received at T-Mobile, which claims the device is a solid seller.
The overall market is slightly different. Nielsen's data says 48% of all smartphone owners use an Android device, with 32.1% using iPhones, 11.6% using BlackBerrys, and 8% using "other."
RIM has no chance of turning itself around for the next two consecutive quarters. Its BlackBerry 10 platform isn't going to launch until close to the end of 2012, and RIM's share will only continue to drop until then.
Microsoft has a better chance. AT&T, for example, is putting a huge marketing campaign behind the launch of the Nokia Lumia 900, which goes on sale April 8. The Lumia 900 is a flagship Windows Phone device that boasts a 4.3-inch screen, 8-megapixel camera, and LTE 4G. AT&T has set a very aggressive $99 price point for the Lumia 900. If the 900 takes off, it is possible Microsoft can turn its market share around.
Meanwhile, Apple and Google will continue to dominate the market for the foreseeable future.
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