Android Steals Market Share From RIM, Microsoft, Palm - InformationWeek
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09:21 AM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman

Android Steals Market Share From RIM, Microsoft, Palm

RIM is the biggest loser as Android continues its unrelenting march to the top of the smartphone market, according to Comscore's latest numbers.

In the three-month period between November 2010 and February 2011, comScore shows Android jumping 7 percentage points from 26% to a whopping 33% of the U.S. smartphone market. Android stole nearly all of that from Research In Motion, which lost 4.6% and dropped from 33.5% to 28.9% of the U.S. market.

Android also stole some share from Microsoft and Palm, despite the fact that Windows Phone 7 launched in the latter part of 2010 and Palm (now owned by HP) launched a new smartphone on Verizon's network in the three-month period examined by comScore. Microsoft's share dropped from 9% to 7.7%, a loss of 1.3% of the overall market. Palm's share dropped from 3.9% to 2.8%, a loss of 1.1% of the overall market.

The reason behind Android's success is quite simple. Hardware makers have banked their high-end device strategy on Google's smartphone platform, and are kicking out exciting, appealing devices nearly every week. RIM has not introduced a significant new handset since August 2010, when it announced the Torch. Aside from a few spec bumps for its Curve and Bold lines, RIM has focused nearly all its energy on the PlayBook tablet in the last six months. This strategy has cost RIM market share in the segment it used to completely own.

Apple's growth in the smartphone market with the iPhone has stalled. In the same three-month period, it increased only from 25% to 25.2%. At least Apple didn't lose market share. It's obvious that Android and the slick devices being brought to the market by the likes of Samsung, Motorola, HTC and others are affecting which platform users choose. Apple's next iPhone, whenever it may arrive, really needs to step it up with respect to new features if Apple wants to maintain the market it already has. If it doesn't offer a significant spec and feature jump with its next iPhone, Apple stands to lose share to Android.

It's hard to make sense of Microsoft's drop in market share. It launched Windows Phone 7 in the U.S. in November 2010. Though Microsoft hasn't shared actual handset sales to end users, it did note that it stuffed the channel full of two million Windows Phone 7 smartphones. It also continues to sell Windows Mobile 6.x-based devices to enterprises. It is not encouraging to see that Microsoft lost ground in the U.S. despite launch of a brand new platform.

Palm/HP continues to be in the worst position. With a drop from 3.9% to 2.8% of the overall market, Palm's sales dropped by 25% between November 2010 and February 2011. Palm launched the Pre2 on Verizon's network in late January. One might have expected some growth, but that's simply not the case. It probably didn't help that the Pre2 didn't hit Verizon's shelves until after the Verizon iPhone was announced.

As for the handset vendors themselves, Samsung has carved out the top spot for itself, with 24.8% of U.S. users claiming to own a Samsung-made device. Amazingly, LG lands in the number two spot with 20.9% of the U.S. share in terms of actual hardware sales. Motorola has 16.1% of the U.S. handset market, RIM has 8.6%, and Apple has 7.5%. (This data includes all phones, not just smartphones.)

ComScore notes that the Verizon version of the Apple iPhone 4 was the most-acquired handset during the month of February.

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