The market-tracking company comScore keeps an eye on the battle between the various smartphone operating systems. There was a significant change covered in its latest report: during the March-May period of this year, Apple’s iOS passed RIM’s BlackBerry OS in popularity among U.S. phone users.
Just a year or so ago, Research In Motion (RIM) was on top of the smartphone world. No longer. It’s now in third place and dropping. Google’s Android OS is now the top dog, followed by the iOS.
|Top Smartphone Platforms
3 Month Avg. Ending May 2011 vs. 3 Month Avg. Ending Feb. 2011
Total U.S. Smartphone Subscribers Ages 13+
Source: comScore MobiLens
|Share (%) of Smartphone Subscribers|
|Total Smartphone Subscribers||100.0%||100.0%||N/A|
Following the Changes
comScore gave no reasons for these changes, but I think I can supply them. It’s all about new models. The operating systems that have lots of new products are growing, the ones that don’t aren’t.
A number of companies are making Android-based smartphones: HTC, Motorola, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, etc. These were pouring out new handsets this spring, practically flooding the market. These were noticeably improved over last-year’s offerings, with better screens and faster processors. It’s no surprise that Android is on the rise.
To understand Apple’s numbers you have to keep in mind what comScore is tracking. These figures aren’t for new device purchases, they are the total number of Americans who own a smartphone. That’s why it makes sense that Apple’s share of the market was flat this spring: the company hasn’t put out a new iPhone since the middle of last year, so there’s not going to be any growth, but users of i-products tend to be very loyal, so they aren’t likely to switch to Android.
RIM, on the other hand, also hasn’t refreshed its product line since last year, but its once-loyal customer base is starting to drift away. This is because it is losing the battle for third-party developers. Smartphone shoppers are looking at the huge array of apps available for the iOS and Android and they want access to them. RIM is trying to switch to a new, better operating system but this might be too late.
Microsoft is the exception to this rule. It introduced a new operating system late last year, Windows Phone 7, and a number of new devices were released to run it. But there’s a wrinkle: most of the fans of Windows Phone 6.5 were business users, but the new 7.0 version was built to appear to consumers. And so far, consumers haven’t embraced it. Hence the drop in U.S. marketshare.
Like RIM, Palm needs to get some new smartphones on the market. It’s now a part of HP (and comScore’s report should reflect this change) but this company has yet to introduce any compelling new webOS-based handsets. That’s why it was bad news that the HP Pre 3 has reportedly been delayed until this fall. The webOS is fine operating system, but it’s not going to grow in marketshare based on the models that are available now.