Apple is outgunning Android in U.S., carriers report

May 3, 2012
Tech

U.S. cellular carriers are reporting that Apple’s iPhone has taken the lead in the smartphone market in the country in the first quarter of 2012, despite reports that suggest the contrary. According to a story from Business Insider, all three iPhone-carrying wireless companies – that’d be Verizon, AT&T and Sprint, the top three carriers in […]

U.S. cellular carriers are reporting that Apple’s iPhone has taken the lead in the smartphone market in the country in the first quarter of 2012, despite reports that suggest the contrary.

According to a story from Business Insider, all three iPhone-carrying wireless companies – that’d be Verizon, AT&T and Sprint, the top three carriers in the U.S. – said they activated more iPhones last quarter than Android devices. AT&T said it saw 4.3 million iPhone activations on its network, or 78 percent of all AT&T smartphones in the quarter; Verizon said 3.2 million iPhones hit its network, or 51 percent of all Verizon smartphones during the period; and Sprint got a bump of 1.5 million iPhones, or 60 percent of all smartphones hitting its network in Q1.

That means that for the biggest three carriers in the U.S., iPhones made up 63 percent of all the smartphone activations in the first quarter of 2012. Business Insider notes that those carriers also handle a big majority of all the smartphones in the country, with approximately 80 percent of all those devices being connected to one of those three networks. And 60 percent of 80 percent is 50 percent of the total.

That information runs contrary to a new report released by NPD, however, that puts the iPhone at 29 percent of the market for the quarter. Android, on the other hand, took 61 percent, NPD found. So why the discrepancy?

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NPD says there could be a number of factors. It uses surveys of a little more than 12,000 smartphone customers to find out where those customers land in terms of buying new smartphones. While the carriers are finding that they’re activating more iPhones, it seems, NPD’s sample group is finding a lot more people opting for Android, or at least choosing to say so. NPD also says that activation numbers are a little different than what its surveys are searching for, and that activations can include refurbished phones, unlocked phones and upgrades.

So a more accurate picture might be the number of new customers who are picking either iPhone or Android when given the choice between the two. And while the carriers suggest that they are seeing more iPhone sales right now, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there are more iPhone users. Still, the addition of Sprint to Apple’s stable of carriers was obviously a good move, because it not only drove another 1.5 million iPhone sales last quarter, it’s helping the iPhone to expand its share of the market.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

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