Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) still has a pretty firm grip on the mobile zeitgeist, but we’re seeing signs that it may be getting a little weaker, courtesy of a couple of recent analyst reports…
First there is the actual number of iPhone owners. Nielsen’s latest figures on the smartphone market, from October 2010, note that Apple and RIM (NSDQ: RIMM) are currently in a “statistical dead heat”: there are as many BlackBerry devices as there are iPhones in the U.S., at just under 28 percent. Android is close behind with around 22 percent of the market, and is likely to overtake both, given the sheer number of models available on the market.
It appears that when it comes to future purchases, though, opinion on the iPhone is split. Women are more attracted to the iPhone, while men prefer the Android (RIM drops out of the picture, relatively speaking). By age groups, Apple ranked above Android in every bracket, except for 35-54 year-old users.
Perhaps most significantly: the iPhone is still the most-desired device among most current smartphone owners, but among featurephone users, Android was the most-preferred OS. This is important because there are a lot more feature phone users out there compared to smartphone users – it’s a 70/30 split right now, says Nielsen.
Another report, from Goldman Sachs and picked up by Fierce Wireless and Street Insider, gives Apple a little further bruising: Android and BlackBerry both come ahead of Apple’s devices when smartphone owners were asked what they would buy next, respectively at 27 percent, 26 percent and 14 percent.
Loyalty among current iPhone owners was also down, with 62 percent saying they would buy an iPhone again, compared to 74 percent in July 2009.
As a sidenote, a report from the analysts at StatCounter noted that in the U.S. BlackBerry devices overtook the iPhone for the first time in terms of web visits in the month of November. That’s not a statistic that has any direct bearing on Apple’s current market share, but it does point to a trend of how these devices are being used. If it was the revolutionary ease of use that catapulted the iPhone into the stratosphere in the first place, then for the same reason, if other OSs are getting used more, you can expect that to trickle into buying patterns as well.
As we’ve noted before, with smartphones currently only accounting for just under 30 percent of the market in the U.S. the market is still open for the taking. What’s clear here is that Apple’s not the sure-bet for taking it that it had been before.