Android Outsells iPhone for the First Time

The second quarter of 2010, just ended, marks a big achievement for Android: The two-year-old operating system passed Apple’s iPhone in marketshare.

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).

About the author

Dan Nosowitz is a freelance writer and editor who has written for Popular Science, The Awl, Gizmodo, Fast Company, BuzzFeed, and elsewhere. He holds an undergraduate degree from McGill University and currently lives in Brooklyn, because he has a beard and glasses and that's the law.