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Which Smartphone Are Your Customers Using?

September 29th, 2011 ::

By Karen Axelton

Does your company market to consumers using mobile devices? Have you developed or are you getting ready to develop mobile apps for your business? Then you’ll want to know some surprising news about which mobile platform is taking the lead with consumers. Surprise: It’s not the iPhone.

Research from eMarketer shows that by the end of the year, Google’s Android operating system will have surpassed the iPhone as the No. 1 smartphone in the U.S. By the end of 2011, Android will be on 37 percent of U.S. smartphones, up 13 percentage points from 2010. The Apple OS’s market share will increase very slightly, from 28 percent of smartphones last year to 29 percent by the end of this year. By 2013, eMarketer predicts, Android will account for more than 40 percent of the U.S. smartphone market.

While Apple and Google battle it out for smartphone dominance, who’s the big loser? Research In Motion’s BlackBerry, which eMarketer estimates will decline from 30 percent of the smartphone market in 2010 to a piddly 15 percent in 2013. eMarketer also believes that Microsoft’s smartphone OS and other competitors will decline as well.

“Within two years, Google and Apple will control nearly three-quarters of this key segment, making it very difficult for contenders like Microsoft and RIM to achieve scale,” said eMarketer Principal Analyst Noah Elkin in announcing the study results.

Android’s sheer number of users will more than double in 2011, eMarketer predicts, after seeing 496 percent user growth in 2010. The number of Android users is projected to grow to 50.4 million in 2013, from 33.4 million this year.

But Apple’s iOS user population is projected to grow as well, from 26.1 million this year to 38.4 million in 2013. And despite the growth of the Android platform, another study reported by eMarketer found advertisers are still more interested in the iPhone as a marketing platform. In a Q2 2011 survey from media buying company STRATA, nearly 90 percent of U.S. ad agencies said their clients were interested in the iPhone as an advertising venue. In contrast, slightly less than two-thirds of clients were interested in marketing on Android devices.

In other words, don’t discount the iPhone just yet. It remains to be seen whether it’s just a matter of time until interest in the Android platform catches up to the iPhone, or whether the iPhone’s “cool” cachet will continue to outweigh Android’s sheer volume of users.

In the meantime, smart marketers will keep their options open by drilling down further. What type of customer tends to buy an iPhone, Android device or BlackBerry? If you’re targeting corporate customers, for instance, you might want to keep focused on the BlackBerry, which is many corporate employees’ default business phone. In the end, it’s a matter of understanding what your market uses and staying nimble to respond.

Image by Flickr user MIKI Yoshihito (Creative Commons)

The views expressed here are the author's alone and not those of Network Solutions or its partners.

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