Apple's iPhone and devices based on Google's Android operating system are running away in a rapidly growing smartphone market that is now as large at the feature phone space, according to numbers in the latest Nielsen Wire report.
And the iPhone's growth appears to be coming at the expense of Research In Motion and its BlackBerry portfolio, which is nearly tied with the "other" category in the percentage of people who say they've bought a smartphone over the three months leading up to the Nielsen survey.
Google's Android OS--which is used by a wide variety of device makers, from Samsung and Motorola to HTC and LG Electronics--now holds about 48 percent of the smartphone market in the United States. Almost a third 32.1 percent of smartphone owners said they own an Apple iPhone, while BlackBerry accounted for 11.6 percent of the smartphones on the U.S. market, according to Nielsen.
The numbers changed--significantly for Apple and RIM--when Nielsen surveyed people who had bought a smartphone in the previous three months. Forty-eight percent of those people surveyed in February chose an Android-based device, keeping in line with the Android numbers in the overall smartphone market.
However, 43 percent of new owners said they bought an iPhone, while 5 percent said they chose a BlackBerry device.
The numbers reflect what analysts and journalists heard March 29 during a conference call with new RIM CEO Thorsten Heins, who said that the BlackBerry maker needed to pull away a bit from the consumer market and focus on its strength in the enterprise. Heins' comments were part of a larger discussion about the need to restructure RIM in the wake of struggles over the past couple of years, as Apple and Google-driven devices have eaten away at BlackBerry's market share.
In the previous fiscal quarter, RIM saw its bad news continue, seeing a 25 percent drop in revenue over the same period last year and posting a $125 million loss. The company shipped 11.1 million BlackBerry smartphones and more than 500,000 BlackBerry PlayBook tablets.
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