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The latest US smartphone market data from ComScore, which surveys a huge panel of consumers every month, is in.
What does it show? (Mobile users: image here.)
US smartphone users added by platform, by month, Sep 09-May 2012. Source: ComScore, analysed by The Guardian
• Apparently, that last month’s drop in the number of Android phones being sold was a blip; they’ve returned to normal, and are level-pegging with the iPhone in terms of sales. (Mobile users: image here.)
Historical data: number of US featurephone users shifting to smartphones. Source: ComScore; analysis: The Guardian
• 46.9% of US mobile users now have a smartphone (“nearly 110m” of 234m, according to ComScore; I’ve taken that “nearly 110m” to be 109.8, as tweaking it up and down between 109.5 and 109.9 actually has little effect on successive numbers). On that basis, with a historical average of 3m smartphone users being added per month, the 50% point of 117m users is about two months away (more if sales slow down over summer, less if they speed up with price cuts). (Mobile users: image here.)
US smartphone installed base by platform, Oct 2009-May 2012. Source: ComScore
• Although RIM has lost significant share of the market over the past year (more than halved from 24.7% to 11.4%), the growth in the market means that its loss in installed base among consumers isn’t quite as dramatic – down from 19m to 12.5m. OK, that’s a 50% loss in installed base, but we knew things were bad. In fact, though, from month to month the ComScore data suggests it actually gained 50,000 users, or at least didn’t lose any – which fits with RIM’s statements at its quarterly earnings that it had seen the loss of users stemmed in the US.
However, don’t celebrate yet. That’s only the second month in the past 12 that it hasn’t lost installed base.
• Android’s share of users is staying pretty steady at around 50%-51%, while Apple is inching upwards, from 29% six months ago to 32% now. Both are probably benefiting from featurephone owners trading up.
• Microsoft has stemmed its past losses in installed base, though it only put on 90,000 users in the past month according to the sample. (Remember: all this comes from sampling, which is robust if you have a large enough sample to be statistically valid; ComScore’s is, and the people it’s polling are the same.) (Mobile users: image here.)
US smartphone installed base, by platform, Oct 09 – May 2012. Source: ComScore
• in the overall phone market, Samsung continues to tighten its grip on the featurephone and smartphone market. There’s no breakdown by manufacturer, but since September 2009 it has gone from being the third-largest in installed base (behind Motorola, which had 58.3m of the 234m users, and LG, which had 50.8m) to the leader, with 60.1m of the 234m. Next closest is LG with 44.9m, and after that Apple with 35.1m. Motorola has fallen to fourth place, with 28.1m.
The point where we start talking about the “next 50%”, and when they won’t have a choice about buying a smartphone, will definitely arrive in the US by Christmas. The effects then will be interesting to see. Will the US carriers keep subsidising Apple? Will Nokia be able to make a breakthrough with the Lumias? Is Android going to get past the 50% ceiling? It’s all to play for.
For another view of the same dataset (with graphs showing different aspects of the data) there’s Horace Dediu’s analysis at Asymco. “At 50% penetration the US smartphone market is not showing signs of saturation.”