Kantar Worldpanel: Android And Verizon Back On Top In U.S. Smartphone Sales, Android At Nearly 50% Of Sales

Kantar Worldpanel, the WPP firm that analyses how well smartphones are selling with consumers (not shipping to sales channels) across key worldwide markets, has picked the week of a major mobile show in Europe, Mobile World Congress, to shift some of the focus back to the U.S. Today the firm released numbers on smartphone sales for the 12 weeks to the end of January, which show that Android was the top smartphone platform, beating out previous leader Apple’s iOS, and that Verizon has ousted AT&T as the top smartphone operator.

This represents a change over a year ago, as evidenced by the tables below, but also last month’s rolling, 12-week sales chart, where iPhone topped sales in the U.S.

The figures come at a timely moment, with news breaking earlier that Samsung has chosen New York for the launch of the newest version of its best-selling Galaxy S IV flagship device, scheduled for March 14. The U.S. has long been a stronghold for Apple, although Android, led by Samsung, has been steadily chipping away at that lead.

Android, Kantar says, took 49.4 percent of smartphone sales, a growth of 6.4 percentage points over the same period last year. Apple’s 45.9 percent of sales was 4.7 percentage points down one year ago. It sources these numbers by extrapolating from data collected from 240,000 consumers annually.

And when you add those two numbers together you can see how ridiculously big the challenge is for others to get a look in. No. 3, Windows Phone, just barely breaks 3 percent of sales, although that’s an improvement on 2.1 percent last year.

As has been the case for Android’s strength worldwide, the platform is being used by a number of handset makers, and those phones are being offered at a number of price points. Samsung, which plays in the full spectrum, from low-end smartphones up to its highest Galaxy S devices, is leading the market. Specifically, Android devices were priced especially agressively on No. 3 carrier Sprint. iOS-based iPhones cost $130 on average, Android $127 back in October 2012, but by this last three-month period iOS cost $95 and iPhones cost $146. The SIII from Samsung cost only $99 over the holiday season.

When you look at how individual carriers have performed this shows where some of the shifts have occurred: specifically, AT&T, traditionally the leader in iPhone sales, accounted for 28.2 percent of sales, more than 8 percentage points lower than a year ago. Verizon rose by less, but it rose, and is now at 35.2 percent. Ironically, it sold more iPhones as well, but the balance between those and Android handsets is more even. (At AT&T it’s 70:24 in favor of iPhones; at Verizon it’s only 57:40.)

Meanwhile, Sprint remained in third with a 14.2 percent share of smartphone sales in the period, Kantar points out, but its mix is 49:72 favoring Android, and that tipped the balance set out by the two leaders. “Part of Android’s increase in the latest period can be attributed to its large gain in share within Sprint’s smartphone sales,” writes Kantar Worldpanel ComTech analyst Mary-Ann Parlato. It’s worth noting that Samsung alone accounted for 60.3 percent of all smartphone sales on the No. 3 carrier.

OS % Share of Smartphone Sales
3 mo. ending Jan 12 3 mo. ending Jan 13
U.S. MARKET 100% 100%
iOS 50.6 45.9
Android 43.0 49.4
RIM 3.3 0.9
Windows 2.1 3.2
Symbian 0.4 0.1
Other 0.6 0.5
Network % Share of Smartphone Sales
3 mo. ending Jan 12 3 mo. ending Jan 13
U.S. MARKET 100% 100%
AT&T 36.4 28.2
Verizon 33.0 35.2
Sprint Nextel 13.4 14.2
T-Mobile 7.0 9.1
Other 10.3 13.3
AT&T:  OS Sales Shares
3 mo. ending Jan 12 3 mo. ending Jan 13
AT&T 36.4% 28.2%
iOS 69.5 69.9
Android 23.1 24.5
RIM 4.9 1.2
Windows 2.4 4.3
Symbian 0.0
Other 0.1 0.1
Verizon:  OS Sales Shares
3 mo. ending Jan 12 3 mo. ending Jan 13
Verizon 33.0% 35.2%
iOS 57.2 56.5
Android 41.5 39.6
RIM 0.6 0.9
Windows 0.2 2.5
Other 0.6 0.4