Nielsen: Smartphones Now 28% of US Market but Lags EU

Nielsen says that 28% of all US mobile subscribers now have smartphones. This estimate is running behind Nielsen's earlier projection, which said that smartphones would constitute about 31% of the market in Q3 2010. And the growth expectation was that by the end of Q4 2010 the US smartphone penetration number would be 35%.

It's unlikely that the 35% will happen until perhaps Q2 of 2011 or maybe even Q3, when Nielsen had said we were supposed to cross the 50% threshold. It will now likely be Q4 of 2012 when that 50% figure is reached. Regardless of whether it's a "year late" that day will certainly come, driven in part by carrier handset subsidies, cultural change and low-cost Android devices. 

Yesterday we saw numbers from NPD and Canalys that showed Android as the top OS in Q3, while the iPhone was crowned the top handset. Those were Q3 only figures however. Nielsen offers holistic market numbers showing that Apple is just behind RIM in terms of smartphone share (see graph), while Android is surging and now almost 20% of the overall market.

Among the smartphone platforms Android has the largest percentage of younger (under 35) users:

In Europe, smartphone penetration is greater as a percentage of the overall market (though markets are much smaller in absolute terms). According to Nielsen:

Compared to Europe, this puts the U.S. on a par with the U.K., which has a similar smartphone penetration rate, but well behind Spain, which boasted a smartphone penetration rate of 37 percent last quarter, and Italy, which had a smartphone penetration rate of 33 percent last quarter.  According to Nielsen’s new Global Smartphone Report, Symbian is the most popular smartphone operating system in Europe.

Regardless of which handset or OS is winning in the US, the rapidly growing penetration of smartphones holds major implications for consumer behavior and marketing opportunities as the population mobilize -- and people take the Internet2Go.