Consumers Have New-Phone Envy, iPhone Top Device

No matter what "flagship" Android device you have it will be obsolete in three to six months. Today's Android flagship is the Samsung Galaxy II, with impressive specs and performance. 

But there will be another more powerful handset by Thanksgiving. 

The competition among the group of OEMs releasing Android handsets -- Samsung, Motorola, LG and HTC chiefly -- is intensifying to the point where bigger and better Android devices are being released at least quarterly. Electronics site Retrevo said that it "counted more than 120 new smartphones from major vendors over the course of about a year."

Most of these are new Android handsets. 

Yet US carriers (other than Sprint) only permit upgrades once every two-year contract cycle. Sprint allows annual upgrades for "premier" high value customers. But generally the hardware releases are coming much faster than consumers are permitted to upgrade.

Retrevo asked its users whether they felt their smartphones were obsolete, given the pace of new handset releases. A large majority (62%) said yes. However, asked if they wanted to pay more for handsets to be permitted to upgrade annually, most said they would not. About 23% said they would pay either $100 (19%) or $200 (4%) for the privilege.

Meanwhile NPD Group today issued a report that said Apple, buoyed by the success of the Verizon iPhone, became the "third-largest handset brand in the U.S., behind Samsung at 23 percent and LG at 18 percent." The iPhone 4 was the top-selling handset in the US despite the fact that Android handsets collectively outsold it and accounted for 50% of all US smartphone sales in Q1 2011.

According to NPD in Q1 here are the top-selling handsets in the US:

  1. iPhone 4
  2. iPhone 3GS 
  3. Motorola Droid X
  4. HTC EVO 4G
  5. HTC Droid Incredibe

NPD also reported that RIM "lost ground, falling 5 points, to 14 percent" of sales. RIM confirmed that it is indeed losing share by issuing new financial guidance, saying that smartphone sales will be at the "lower end of the range."