New sales of Android-based smartphones rose from 14 percent in January to 32 percent in August, according to the Nielsen Group. That period covers the debut of Apple's iPhone 4, and new sales by Apple and Research In Motion declined. Meantime, AT&T and Motorola unveiled the Android-based Bravo, Flipout and Flipside smartphones.
New data from the Nielsen Group on smartphone sales in the first eight months of 2010 confirmed what almost everyone in the technology world already knows: Phones using Google 's Android operating system are on the rise in the U.S. New adopters rose from 14 percent in January to 32 percent in August.
During the same period, Research In Motion's BlackBerry devices dropped from 34 percent to 26 percent of new sales, and Apple's iPhone dropped from 32 to 25 percent.
Waiting for iPhone 4
That period of time covers Apple's announcement of a new iPhone (with months of publicity about it) and one month of sales of the device. So the drop in Apple's sales is likely a result of consumers holding off purchases in anticipation of the iPhone 4.
"It's a common pattern, especially for Apple, for folks to hold off until the new updated device comes out," said Kirk Parsons, a senior wireless analyst at J.D. Power and Associates. "The news about a new device launch is announced months in advance, so it's human nature to wait until a new version comes out."
Between June, when the iPhone 4 was launched, and August, Apple's smartphone sales rose from 21 to 25 percent. But during that same period, Android sales took off at a greater rate, climbing from 26 to 32 percent, as smartphones such as Motorola's Droid X and Samsung's Galaxy were released.
Android's overall share of the U.S. smartphone market, including new adopters and previous users, grew from eight percent to 19 percent during that period, putting it in third place, while Apple's remained basically the same from 29 to 28 percent and Research in Motion fell from 36 to 31 percent after an initial rise in February and March. The data released Tuesday did not look at the share of smartphones running Microsoft's Windows Mobile, Palm's webOS, or Nokia's Symbian systems.
The data contains "no surprises whatsoever," said Parsons. "Our data also suggests that folks that own an Android-based device have higher overall satisfaction than Apple, not counting the 4G version."
The survey results were announced on the same day that AT&T and Motorola unveiled three new Android-based phones, the Bravo, Flipout and Flipside, which will make a total of eight Android options on the carrier's shelves.
The 3G phones are Wi-Fi-capable with three-megapixel cameras. The Flipout and Flipside have slide-out or, in the case of Flipout, twist-out QWERTY keyboards, while the Bravo also has a 3.7-inch touchscreen. The Flipout premieres Oct. 17, while the other two are slated for holiday-season releases.The Flipout will sell for $79.99, while the Flipside will be priced at $99.99 and the Bravo at $129.99, each with a new two-year contract. Those prices are considerably lower than the subsidized cost of other notable Android phones, such as the Droid X, Samsung Vibrant, and HTC EVO.