comScore just dropped some new U.S. market share numbers on us and if you like drama, you're going to love this one. According to the analytics company, for the three month period ending in February 2013, Android's share actually dropped 2%, while Apple's rose 3.9%. Before you panic, though, no, this isn't the end of the world.
Since comScore actually gives us the total number of smartphone subscribers in the country (by its count), we can use that percentage to get an idea of just how many total users a platform gained or lost. There were 133.7m total smartphone users in February, versus 123.3m in November. Calculating Google's total, we see that Android had about 66.2m total users in November 2012, which went up to 69.1m in February. So, despite Google's percentage of the market dropping, the number of people adopting Android still rose.
So, why the drop? Well, it's largely because Apple had a very good quarter. In August of 2012, the iPhone made up 34.3% of a 116.5m smartphone market, or about 39.9m total users. By November, Apple's share had only risen about 0.7% as the total market climbed to 123.3m smartphone owners, or about 43.1m iPhones in circulation. Keeping in mind that this time period included the launch of the iPhone 5 in September. It would seem that the eager adopters grabbed them up during this period, but most consumers waited until the holidays because between November and February, Apple's total number of users in the U.S. skyrocketed from 43.1m to 52m, or about nine million new users. Interestingly (though perhaps predictably), Apple made more sales in the holiday quarter than it did during the iPhone 5 launch quarter before it. A narrative that the company's earning reports seem to corroborate (26.9m total global iPhone sales in Q4 2012, vs. 47.8m in Q1 2013).
So, just in case you saw a negative sign and went to grab your torches and pitchforks, no, Android isn't in any danger. The iPhone is doing very well for itself, and Google is sure seeing some slow growth, but adoption of both platforms is increasing, and smartphones are still only 57% of the entire mobile market.
Where things really get interesting (and, frankly, a little bit sad) is on the OEM side:
Apple is up 3.9% between November and February, Samsung is up 1%, while everyone else is down, down, down. HTC most of all, with a loss of 1.7% of the market. Motorola similarly dropped, while LG crept down two tenths of a percentage point. To be fair, like with the platform shares, this doesn't tell the whole story. While November's OEM numbers included dumbphone sales, that method of tracking changed in December. Compare that month's numbers to February's and LG actually gained a tiny bit (up by about 100k), whereas Motorola and HTC both lost users. So, despite the numbers looking bleak for anyone but Samsung or Apple, LG at the very least benefited from the goodwill the Nexus 4 brought it. Just not enough to keep up with the rest of the industry. At least in the U.S..
Who knows what the next couple years will bring.