Product Share vs. Platform Share

Comscore have latest market-share numbers for U.S. smartphone market.

Top Smartphone Platforms
3 Month Avg. Ending Feb. 2011 vs. 3 Month Avg. Ending Nov. 2010
Total U.S. Smartphone Subscribers Ages 13+
Source: comScore MobiLens
Share (%) of Smartphone Subscribers
Nov-10 Feb-11 Point Change
Total Smartphone Subscribers 100.0% 100.0% N/A
Google 26.0% 33.0% 7.0
RIM 33.5% 28.9% -4.6
Apple 25.0% 25.2% 0.2
Microsoft 9.0% 7.7% -1.3
Palm 3.9% 2.8% -1.1

Despite its successful iPhone rollout at Verizon, Apple is stalled at 25% market share, and under attack from Android. Indeed, we can assume that, but for Apple’s efforts at broadening the iPhone’s distribution via Verizon, Apple would be losing market share; it seems almost certain that the iPhone is losing share amongst AT&T subscribers, which is as a good a measure of “exiting-store sales” as we have.

Of course, this trend has been coming for a while. In this blog post (“Mid- and Mass-Market Smart Phones“), we looked at whether there was a mass-market play for Apple in smartphones without them sacrificing their quality positioning and margins.

I still think the answer is “yes” – Apple can, and perhaps may, expand its iPhone range to regain smartphone market share momentum.

One positive here for Apple is the continued momentum of its platform (Cocoa / iOS). I continue to hear from developers that developing for Android is “a pain”. Fortune had an article on the negatives for Android just yesterday. Meanwhile, the iPad continues to sweep all before it in terms of Tablet sales, and also in terms of being the target for anyone creating a tablet app. The MacBook Air is also creating a new niche of tablet-like-portability-with-laptop-like-flexibility (see for instance Digital Daily on the MacBook Air as Quasi Tablet); and, given the introduction of the Mac Store and the huge and increasing similarities between iOS and MAC Cocoa, the Air is part of Apple’s portability-platform, too.

Platform success means the best apps, and the best mindshare from both consumers and developers. If Apple can find the right way to tackle the mid-market, and continue to broaden distribution in the U.S. and internationally, they could yet win the lion’s share of the smartphone market, even in the face of would-be imitators based on Android.


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