Apple naysayers love to breakdown the marketshare of Android-powered smartphones. Apple fans always counter with the reminder that no single Android phone outsells the iPhone. Understandable. It’s true that there are more Android phones out there, but just last quarter Google’s smartphone OS experienced its first loss of market share in one region since 2009, and industry analysts Needham & Co. suspect it’s “just the beginning of Android’s share loss in the U.S.”
Google’s U.S. smartphone market share slid from 52.4% at the end of 2010 to 49.5% at the end of the first quarter says Needham analyst Charlie Wolf. That may or may not have a lot to do with the arrival of the iPhone from Verizon, the biggest carrier in the U.S., since Apple’s U.S. market share jumped 9% in March, while globally its share remained flat. There’s also the rise of Windows Phone 7 and its recent availability on all carriers. Given that many Blackberry owners were once owners of Windows mobile phones, they’re looking to get back and rekindle an old flame. Some Blackberry owners who I’ve talked to love both iPhone and Android offerings. But, there are also those who want the stability and silky interface of iPhone while not being locked into any specific form of hardware that Android-based phones provide.
In any case, if Apple actually has a radically overhauled iPhone 5 on the way and jumps on the LTE bandwagon, it could possibly give Apple further advantage over Android–especially since Android phones are now riding the 4G airwaves during the mid-cycle launch of the Verizon’s 4GLTE. And if rumors that a Sprint and T-Mobile edition of the iPhone hold true and arrives to coincide with the iPhone 5 launch in fall, the potential for sales would further cut into Android’s market share.
Then there’s Nokia. Far from the dominance it once had in the cellphone market, Nokia is down but not out thanks to an injection of research funds from Microsoft. Nokia, at its peak, dominated handset marketshare at 60 percent. Now at 30.6 percent in the 1st quarter of 2011, comes its biggest bet and it almost rhymes with Meego. With Nokia, Microsoft can leverage the manufacturer’s strong relationships with all carriers. And as long as RIM continues to pull the same mistakes with each of their new phones, Nokia’s rebirth will put WP7 on the map making IDG’s 2015 smartphone market share prediction not so far-fetched.
Nokia’s recent numbers
Apple could add on top of WP7′s potential momentum by launching a much cheaper version of the iPhone 5, the long-rumored iPhone “Lite,” which Wolf thinks Apple COO Tim Cook has hinted at recently. There are tiny hints this may happen buried in some recent Apple developer code for iOS. The code specifically mentions several future iPhone and iPad IDs, but no iPod Touch. And remember Apple was said to be handing out an iPhone “4S” that had the same design as the current phone, but an upgraded A5 CPU inside. If all the moons align and all goes accordingly to rumor and plan, on top of iPhone5 and you’re in for a serious smartphone war over marketshare before holiday season.