According to Don Kellogg from the Nielsen Company, 31% of all mobile phone users in the U.S. own some type of a smartphone. More interestingly, it appears that the race for market share in the U.S. by the leading smartphone platforms - Android, iOS and BlackBerry - is in a dead heat.
We have already learnt from analysts at Canalys that shipments of Android-based smartphones globally commanded a 32.9% share of the market, followed by devices running Nokia's Symbian OS at 30.6%, Apple's iPhone OS at 16%, and RIM's BlackBerry OS at 14.4%. Nielsen's report today shows that RIM and Apple are still fairly popular in the US, being on equal terms with Android in terms of market share. In fact it is likely that Apple's closed platform has limited its reach and stymied its growth globally, something it may wish to rectify if it hopes to match Android's market share and growth.
Although the Canalys and Nielsen reports appear to be at odds, it is prudent to bear in mind that Canalys looked at total shipments of smartphones worldwide, whereas Nielsen's report focusses on the install base of smartphones only in the US.
Irrespective of which report you look at, Android's growth has been astounding. In Q4 2009, the Android platform commanded a mere 2% of the market. In contrast, RIM's BlackBerry OS has really floundered with its market share falling by over 10% in the last year. Apple, however, has remained fairly consistent at around the 28% mark.
So, it hardly comes as a surprise that in the past six months, more people have chosen to buy an Android device over a BlackBerry or an iPhone.
Another interesting metric surveyed by Nielsen was the ethnicity of smartphone owners.
According to their survey Apple's iOS is the platform of choice for Asian/Pacific Islanders, while the BlackBerry is favoured by African-Americans. Caucasian and Hispanic users appear to be using all three platforms evenly.