While the main customer smartphone market in the US is still largely owned by Apple and its iPhone, things could be changing rapidly. According to research firm NPD’s survey of 150,000 “nationally balanced and demographically representative” respondents, smartphones running the Android operating system surpassed Apple to rank number two among smartphone operating systems.
NPD’s wireless market research reveals that, based on unit sales to consumers last quarter, the Android operating system moved into second position with 28 percent behind RIM’s BlackBerry operating system (36 percent) and by ahead of Apple’s operating system (21 percent).
“As in the past, carrier distribution and promotion have played a crucial role in determining smartphone market share,” said Ross Rubin, NPD’s executive director of industry analysis. “In order to compete with the iPhone, Verizon Wireless has expanded its buy one get one offering beyond RIM devices to now include all of its smartphones.”
Strong sales of the Droid, Droid Eris and Blackberry Curve through these promotions helped keep Verizon Wireless’ smartphone sales on par with AT & T’s in the first quarter. According to NPD’s Mobile Phone Track, AT&T smartphone sales accounted for nearly a third of the entire smartphone market (32 percent), followed by Verizon Wireless (30 percent), T-Mobile (17 percent) and Sprint (15 percent).
“The recent advancements of BlackBerry 6, HP’s recently announced acquisition of Palm and the pending launch of Windows Phone 7 demonstrate the industry’s willingness to make investments to address consumer demand for smartphones and other mobile devices,” he said. Rubin. “Operators continue to offer attractive prices for the devices, but will have to present other data plan options to attract more customers in the future.”
AllThingsD I got Apple’s opinion on this report and others like it, which unsurprisingly minimized the success and growth of Android.
“This is a very limited report on 150,000 US consumers who responded to an online survey and does not account for the more than 85 million iPhone and iPod touch customers worldwide,” said Apple spokeswoman Natalie Harrison.
Devices that run iPhone OS, such as the iPod touch and iPad, mean that Apple has an advantage in that area, but NPD numbers do not include the iPod touch or non-smartphone Android devices like the Archos 5.