Does The Growing Gap Between iOS And Android Signal Shrinking iPhone Demand?

The new Kantar Worldpanel ComTech research numbers are out, and the data shows that Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android mobile operating system continued to widen the gap between itself and Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS. The data covers the three months ended in February.

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Android now supplies its OS to over half of the smartphone market, clocking in at a 51.2 percent share. For a second consecutive period, iOS lost some of its ground, and sat at 43.5 percent, a 3.5 point decline from a year ago (Android, meanwhile, grew 5.8 point over the same time frame). Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows mobile OS also grew, and now makes up 4.1 percent of the smartphone market.

Verizon (NYSE:VZ) remained the top carrier, providing 35 percent of the nations smartphones. Sprint (NYSE:S) also grew, fueled by an upswing in Samsung (SSNLF.PK) sales in the last couple months, which helped contribute to Android’s growth.

“Last month we saw that Android’s increases were thanks to a large increase in Samsung sales within Sprint. This month, while the increases for Samsung are less pronounced, we’re still seeing an increase in uptake of the brand, which is now impacting on Sprint’s overall share in smartphone sales,” said Kantar analyst Mary-Ann Parlato.

Samsung initiated a significant price drop at the end of last year, which helped lure consumers. “Of those who changed their phone over the last year to a Samsung smartphone, 19 percent had previously owned a Samsung featurephone, 15 percent owned a HTC smartphone, 14 percent owned an LG featurephone, 10 percent owned a Samsung smartphone and 9 percent owned a BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY). It’s apparent that Samsung is successful at capturing users from across the competitor set and not just gaining from their own loyalists, (albeit loyalty towards Samsung has also grown).” Parlato continues.

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Speculatively, the numbers could also have been affected by anticipation for the iPhone 5S. Users intending to make a switch in favor of iOS may be holding off until the next generation is released, keeping Apple’s numbers lower for this period. Once the iPhone 5S materializes, Apple may see a spur of growth, or at the very least a slowdown of its market share decline.

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