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Android Outsells iPhone for the First Time

Motorola Droid

As with all survey findings like this, my reporting will be in two parts: the findings themselves, and then the caveats. Those caveats are important and interesting, so don't skip them—they color, and sometimes negate, the findings.

Nielsen's second-quarter statistics for smartphones are out, and of course it involves the quickly evolving and often bloody fight between Apple's iPhone and the various phones using Google's Android. For the first time, more new purchasers (within the past six months) have chosen Android more often than iPhone. Android accounted for 27% of those smartphone sales in the US, while the iPhone snagged 23%. BlackBerry, of course, remains on top.

That's been great for Android manufacturers; HTC's sales are up 66%, and Motorola, a company that was firmly in the red before the launch of the best-selling Droid, is now turning a profit almost solely thanks to its Android offerings.

Also interesting is the study purported to analyze customer satisfaction: How likely are these users to stick with their current mobile OS? Here, as usual, the iPhone is still tops: 89% of iPhone users say they'll stick with iOS, while only 71% of Android users can say the same. (Embarrassingly, only 42% of BlackBerry users say they'll stay on the BlackBerry team, an expectedly low figure that RIM, the makers of BlackBerry, are hoping to combat with the new BlackBerry 6.)

Now the caveats. First, these findings only focus on new smartphone purchasers, and information for the third quarter will likely show a reversal, for one very simple reason: the iPhone 4. Apple's iPhone release schedule is well-known and reliable, and many potential iPhone buyers may have held off in the last quarter, knowing a new iPhone was around the corner.

Some commenters over at GigaOm note that if you look at all iOS devices (which include the iPod Touch and iPad), those numbers would be different. But that's not really a legitimate argument, since these numbers are for smartphones—neither the iPad nor the iPod Touch qualify due to size or feature set. Also, Android isn't exactly restricted to smartphones either; the Barnes & Noble Nook e-reader and several tablets (including the Dell Streak) use Android, and were not counted in these figures.

But these are good numbers for Android, which is showing a very healthy increase in sales and marketshare month over month. That's good for the consumer as well: The more people buy Android, the more developers will develop for the platform, leading to a better platform, which starts the cycle over again. This isn't a bad sign for Apple, really—sales are always down before a new release. Next quarter's numbers will be more telling for Apple.

[Image credit: Gizmodo]

Dan Nosowitz, the author of this post, can be followed on Twitter, corresponded with via email, and stalked in San Francisco Brooklyn (no link for that one—you'll have to do the legwork yourself).

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  • themusicvoid

    News broke on Monday that Android smartphones are staring to kick the sh*t out of RIM and Apple with new buyers.
    According to a Nielsen report, in 2010 Android-based phones accounted for 27% of the overall smartphone sales in the United States compared to iPhone sales that only accounted for 23%. And that includes the iPhone4’s opening weekend sales of 1.7 million units.

    More on this here via the TMV website:

  • Al Brown

    Its simple iPhones are not for everyone. The report shows operating systems for smart phone sales. So simple if your a developer better get on Android because iOS has hit the wall. My biggest question is the assumption that the iPhone 4 is going to put Apple back on top. How many new great Android phones came out in the last quarter. Droid X is selling out at almost all locations. Apples days of growth are coming to a end. Maybe Steve should let up on the control.

  • Jay Bee

    This is report doesn't make any sense, its comparing two categories, smart phone manufactures and smart phone operating systems, but its consolidating both into a single smartphone category? This is very a very poor analysis.
    You can't clump all Android phones into a single smartphone group, you need to compare each manufacture against each other to have not only a fair analyses but also one that makes sense.
    These comparisons should be manufacturer vs manufacture, not manufacture vs alternative smarthphone operating system, clearly not all Android phones are made equal, some have better hardware, others have better design, some better customer support, show us a true break down of the smartphone industry, show us a manufacturer vs manufacturer comparison, show us how Apple smart phone fairing against HTC's smartphones then do the same for Motorola and all the other manufactures, whats the competition look like between HTC and Motorola, these are more interesting, valued and real comparisons.