image credit thenextweb.com
When the NPD Group's report came out, it made waves because Android appeared to be overtaking the iPhone in regards to US market share (28% vs. 21%, respectively).
Sure, these numbers are impressive, but the key point here that iPhone still mastered 21% market share on one carrier only.
We need to take a look at how Android is doing in other countries where the iPhone was available on multiple carriers. The UK can serve as a good example.
We were able to dig up comScore's report for January 2010. At that time, the iPhone's UK market share was 20.5% — and Android was only 3.0%. On the other hand, we reported that Android rose to 13.2 percent in UK in Q2; however, the report did not provide market share percentages for other OS's. We can only deduce that Android did not topple any of the other OS's from their pedestals.
If you look at the global smartphone OS share as of May 2010, per Gartner, for Q1 the iPhone was at 15.4%, compared to Android at 9.6%. (In the interests of full disclosure, we are not sure if that 9.6% Android market share includes the Chinese variant Ophone. Our opinion? It should not, since Google doesn't benefit from it.)
UPDATE: Gartner released 2010 Q2 results – android is at 17.2% overtaking iOS at 14.2%. Still no word is Ophone is part of the data or not.
In conclusion, it looks like no one really has a full picture on the market share, and market data percentages are scattered all over the place. But it's clear that the Android OS is enjoying unprecedented growth. As we pointed out earlier, the selection process for Android phones is getting more and more complicated for the consumers, but the overall level of innovation has accelerated since Apple introduced the iPhone. And it's very important to point out that Apple's strategy of "one OS/one Device" is an unqualified success.
As far as the iPhone's US market share loss to Android: in our opinion, it's only a temporary event. For example, we calculated that the iPhone has over 51% penetration of all smartphones on AT&T's network. Assuming that the rumored January debut of a Verizon-flavored iPhone takes place, if it captures 15% (over 4 million units sold) of all Verizon smartphone subscribers, it will overtake Android. We may not have any empirical data that a "vPhone" can reach 15%, but anecdotal evidence supports that assumption. If we assume the activation rate on Verizon will be the same as on AT&T, it will take 2 quarters to hit that market share. "Verizon iPhone" is one of the most popular search terms on our site, and friends and family we talked to who got Droids wish they got an iPhone.
One conclusion we can make without hesitation? In this battle of the OS's, consumers will ultimately benefit.