Nielsen: Android Momentum Continues, iPhone Barely Leads, RIM in Decline

Nielsen put out some new US smartphone data showing Android's continued momentum, especially among new smartphone buyers. The iPhone is flat and RIM is in decline according to these data. There are two storylines here: "Android is unstoppable" or one that recognizes that everyone who's going to buy the iPhone from AT&T has already done so. In the latter storyline, it's Android vs. RIM across the three other carriers.  

Both however are true to some degree. My view is that these numbers would be different if the iPhone and Android were equally available from all US carriers. We would see quite a bit less demand across the board for Android devices. That theory will be put to the test when the iPhone finally becomes available through Verizon. 

However Apple's prolonged exclusive relationship with AT&T has clearly hurt the iPhone and given Android a chance to develop this momentum. Had the iPhone been more widely available it's very unlikely that we would see these same numbers. Yet the Android platform has matured. It is now a strong, competitive OS that excells in certain areas (e.g., voice actions, navigation).

Compare share among recent smartphone buyers (top) to smartphone share overall (below), where the field is much tighter. 

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Here are the most recent US smartphone share data from comScore for comparison. They show RIM still comfortably out front, with Apple and Google in a virtual tie. 

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