U.S. smartphone penetration crosses 50%, but iOS tails Android

It's finally happened. If the latest numbers can be believed, smartphone adoption now rests at 50.4% of the overall mobile market, which is up from 47.8% in December. That means more people in the U.S. now own smartphones than feature phones. The tide has turned. The paradigm has shifted. We're the majority.

Well, sort of. Though there's still some contention as to whether or not Android is in fact beating out iOS as the leading smartphone operating system in the U.S., Nielsen's latest research shows that Android is leading the way with a 48.5% share. Nielsen also figures. They looked at all sorts of demographic data too, including that there were slightly more female  mobile subscribers in Q1 2012 than males, but the split was fairly even (50.9% versus 50.1%). 67.3% of Asians surveyed had a smartphone as their primary handset, which which was a significant lead on the other ethnic groups; U.S. Hispanics enjoyed 57.3% smartphone penetration, followed by 54.4% among African Americans and 44.7% of white people.

I'm often iffy about comparing iOS and Android market share directly considering their wildly varied manufacturing circumstances; if Android gets to add up all of its smartphone manufacturers as if they're a singular driving force for the platform, shouldn't Apple get to count iPad and iPod touch numbers in OS market share research? That said, I wouldn't take it too personally that the numbers from Nielsen showed that Android was beating out iOS in the U.S. since Apple is pushing their platforms in many directions where we still aren't seeing much of Google's operating system. Besides, Apple is still making boatloads more money than anyone else. And they're often doing it in spite of the carriers.

But back to the big news. If any of you were smartphone users back in the day of the Treo or Windows Mobile, of Symbian or BlackBerry, did you imagine the day would come when most people in the U.S. were smartphone users? And did you think it would take this long? Did you think it would take longer?

Smartphones used to be for the geeks and the go-getters. Now they're for almost everyone, and the almost is rapidly fading. How long until all phone users are smartphone users?

Source: Nielsen

Simon Sage

Editor-at-very-large at Mobile Nations, gamer, giant.

  • What benefit do I get because Apple makes a ton of money? I don't own the stock, I don't see any money coming out of my ipad. If anything, it sounds like we all overpaid.
  • +1
  • Obviously Android will have more, the have more phones on each carrier, have more carriers (Including PrePaid and Regional), and over all on their phones they cost less up front. So yeah they have more market share, but Apple has high profit margins and high consumer ratings. So yeah, not to worried.
  • Why would you worry about how much money an Apple competitor is making? Simon I have a sportswatch running Android, should would count that too? I mean it's not a smartphone or anything but why should that matter in a smartphone survey?
  • Exactly what I was thinking
  • What a fanboy this Simon dude is!
  • BlackBerry...nearing 80 million users...back in the day?
    that's weak.
    Are we just upset cause we are not #1?
    I rock iOs and BB...just saying
  • Really? You want to count ipad's and ipod touches in Apple's market share? Bitter much? Android is clearly beating Apple in market share, but I highly doubt Apple cares (nor should it)
  • If Apple released hundreds of phones a year I'm sure they would be winning.
  • If it was that simple the only thing RIM would have to do is create 10 new phones and ramp up production. You build it they buy it right? Ask HTC how that went last year. You would think we would be past these simplified explanations by now.
  • You should care about how much money Apple has because that gives you security and confidence in knowing that the funds exist to support the platform for the long run.
  • Yes Apple makes tons of money out of me and I am very happy about it. I feel obligated to give my hard earned money to Apple every time they have something new in the market. I get security and sleep well in night knowing Apple has $110B in their bank. I get a dream that someday they will support me by opening their bank door. I feel secure to buy $25000-30000 car from bankrupt company like GM but have nightmares of buying $200 phone from a company that doesn't have $110B in their bank.
  • That's for your thoughtless sarcasm, but you completely missed the point.
  • Support for the long haul? With a two year contract?
    The only long haul support that matters is for the OS so your app investment remains relevant, and Android isn't going anywhere. They are not a Palm or Blackberry or even Apple where the OS is tied to a single manufacturer.
  • Did several surveys for Palm, then Palm One. The T3 was the flagship device. Many told them to supe it up with the best hardware, and software, and make it a phone also. They sort of tried, but fell short. I always wanted a full screen phone, not a half screen plus half hard keyboard. So many great ideas were floting around back then. We all are seeing the benefit today. What is next? Going to be fun. Doing research, and reading articles, one day we will see an iPhone sized MRI. There is your trycorder right there. Amazing.
  • Why does the male vs female add up to 101%?
  • its not males vs females its percent of overall males and the same for females.
  • females usually don't work like males that is why ratio is slightly high.