Remember the images of Android as unstoppable? Uh, it’s slowing down. Seems someone threw an iPhone 4S on the tracks and derailed the growth of the Google mobile operating system among new smartphone buyers. After the iPhone 4S’ October release, Android’s popularity with new phone buyers dropped from 61.1 percent to 46.9 percent.
The key is tracking so-called recent acquirers, or people who’ve bought a smartphone within the last three months. Nielsen discovered that Apple went from 25.1 percent of new acquirers in October to 44.5 percent in December. “The high-profile launch of Apple’s iPhone 4S in the Fall had an enormous impact on the proportion of smartphone owners who chose an Apple iPhone,” the measurement firm announced.
The firm also said 60 percent of consumers who bought a handset over the past three months chose a smartphone instead of a feature phone.
Nielsen’s figures of a slowing Android lead is mirrored by Millennial Media, which tracks operating systems used to request mobile advertising. In December, requests from iOS-based devices steadily rose from October’s 28 percent to 30 percent in November. By contrast, mobile ad requests from Android-based devices slid from 56 percent in October to 50 percent in November.
The numbers appear to indicate as more mobile consumers move from standard feature phones to more powerful smartphones (a migration helped by carriers lusting after data plans), Apple grows stronger. Indeed, ChangeWave Research found half of smartphone buyers said they will pick the iPhone. Along with more U.S. carriers, the iPhone is also becoming available in more countries, further eroding Android’s lead.