U.S. Smartphone Market Is a Two-Horse Race and Apple Is Winning

Source: Apple.com

While Samsung (SSNLF.PK) holds more than double the worldwide smartphone market share that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) does, it’s a much different story when it comes to the U.S. market. According to the latest data from the NPD Group’s Connected Home Report via TechCrunch, 42 percent of smartphone owners in the United States owned an iPhone in the fourth quarter of 2013.

NPD’s data also show that the domestic smartphone market has increasingly become a two-horse race between Apple and Samsung. Samsung held a 26 percent share of the U.S. smartphone market last quarter, which means that both companies combined accounted for 68 percent of the total smartphone ownership in the United States.

However, Apple has increased its lead over its Korea-based rival since last year. In the year-ago quarter, Samsung held a 22 percent share of the U.S. market and Apple held a 35 percent share. Since then, Apple has widened the gap by 16 percentage points. Apple’s gains are likely due to the fall launch of the iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S models. The fourth quarter of 2013 was the first full quarter of sales following the new iPhone models’ availability in September.

Although Samsung and Apple boosted their market share, most other smartphone makers saw their share decline compared to last year. Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Motorola, HTC, and BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) all sustained significant year-over-year losses. Korea-based manufacturer LG was the only smartphone maker besides Apple and Samsung to gain market share. However, fourth-ranked LG still held less than 10 percent of the U.S. smartphone market.

Overall, the NPD Group found that smartphones’ share of the total mobile phone market continued to rise in the December quarter. Smartphones accounted for approximately 60 percent of all mobile phones used in the fourth quarter of 2013, up from 52 percent in the year-ago quarter, reports TechCrunch.

The NPD Group also found that the rise of smartphone usage in the U.S. has fueled a corresponding rise in total data consumption. According to the research firm’s data, smartphone owners used an average of 6.6 gigabytes per month in the December quarter, up from 5.5 gigabytes in the year-ago period. The NPD Group attributed some of the increased data consumption to the growing popularity of music-streaming services. Although Apple’s iTunes Radio debuted as part of iOS 7 last September, it failed to crack the NPD Group’s list of the top five music-streaming services in the United States. Pandora (NYSE:P) took the No. 1 spot, followed by iHeart Radio and Spotify.

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