Find: Apple rules top three smartphone spots but loses new users to Android

Apple has the top models, but android sells more across all models. 

Ars Technica

Apple continues to hold the title for some of the top-selling smartphone models, with the iPhone 4S being the best selling handset in the US last quarter, according to a new report by market research firm NPD. But while the iPhone has repeatedly made Apple the top smartphone vendor in the US, Android still appears to be attracting more new users.

Apple had three iPhone models available for sale in the fourth quarter of 2011: the just-released iPhone 4S, the iPhone 4, which Apple continues to sell as a lower-cost entry-level model, and the nearly three-year-old iPhone 3GS, which AT&T still offers as essentially a $0 bargain smartphone. Collectively, all iPhones sold accounted for 43 percent of smartphone sales in the US for the quarter.

According to NPD analyst Ross Rubin, Apple sold nearly two iPhone 4S models for every iPhone 4 sold, and five iPhone 4S models for every iPhone 3GS sold. And despite the large disparity in numbers, the iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, and iPhone 3GS ended up being the top three smartphones sold in the US.

But even with the top Android smartphone (Samsung Galaxy SII) being outsold more than five to one in the US, Android handsets in aggregate still accounted for 48 percent of US smartphone sales last quarter, accord to NPD's data. Perhaps more alarming for Apple, users buying their first smartphones chose an Android device 57 percent of the time, and an iOS device just 34 percent of the time.

While Android has been criticized for its platform fragmentation and the complexity it presents to users, the platform's wide carrier support, growing app selection, and variety of models available from several vendors attracts a generally wider audience. Particularly in the US, Rubin noted, Android is the only choice for users who want to take advantage of LTE networks from Verizon and AT&T or Sprint's WiMAX network.