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iPhone still king; new smartphone buyers opting for Android

Sometimes it seems like everyone on the subway or in the café is using an iPhone, but according to market research firm Nielsen, new smartphone buyers are going after Android phones in droves. Nielsen says that 40.8 percent of US consumers who bought a smartphone in the last six months bought Android devices, while 26.9 percent bought iPhones and 19.2 percent bought BlackBerrys.

New smartphone buyers have been eyeing Android devices more than the iPhone every month since June of 2010, according to Nielsen's graph, but the two have generally followed the same growth path since then. This is because there has been a strong demand in general for smartphones, leading to an overall market expansion during that period of time. So both iOS and Android have benefited from an increased number of buyers. Nielsen says that 45 percent of recent acquirers chose a smartphone over a feature phone in November—a growth trend that will  continue into 2011.

RIM isn't doing so hot with the influx of smartphone users. In June of 2010, the company had the attention of 35 percent of recent acquirers; that fell to just 25 percent the following month. As of November, only 19.2 percent of new buyers were looking at RIM devices.

The same trends can be seen in Nielsen's overall consumer market share numbers. Apple still maintains a slight lead over Android, with 28.6 percent of the market (Android currently has 25.8 percent). Those numbers are up from 27.9 percent and 15 percent in June 2010, respectively. RIM, on the other hand, has declined in consumer market share—in June of 2010, it was at 33.9 percent and now lies at 26.1 percent. "In other words, RIM remains statistically tied with both Apple for first and Android for third," Nielsen wrote on its blog.

The numbers aren't particularly surprising—mobile ad firm AdMob has been saying for months that Android is catching up to the iPhone on the mobile Web, and NPD said in August that Android phones were selling faster than the iPhone. Nielsen seems to agree that Android's takeover of the general consumer market is imminent: "Apple's clear lead over A...

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