The Android vs. iPhone Sales War

by Anya Jennings on June 23, 2010

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During his announcement of Apple’s new iPhone 4 last month, Steve Jobs took the time to talk about Android vs. iPhone sales reports. Jobs suggested that people should ignore reports that indicate Google Android phones are outselling Apple’s iPhones.

“There have been a lot of stats floating around, market research, and studies. Some are okay, some are questionable,” Jobs said.

Jobs was obviously upset when the NPD Group reported that  Google’s Android based Smartphone sales surpassed iPhones sales in the first quarter of 2010. According to the NPD report:

The Android operating system (OS) continued to shake up the U.S. mobile phone market in the first quarter (Q1) of 2010, moving past Apple to take the number-two position among Smartphone operating systems, according   company. NPD’s wireless market research reveals that based on unit sales to consumers last quarter the Android operating system moved into second position at 28 percent behind RIM’s OS (36 percent) and ahead of Apple’s OS (21 percent)

Even with Reuters picking up the NDP report, that didn’t sway Jobs’ assertion that the report was flawed.  Apple had to respond, and Apple’s spokeswomen Natalie Harrison did just that:

“This is a very limited report on 150,000 U.S. consumers responding to an online survey and does not account for the more than 85 million iPhone and iPod touch customers worldwide.  …We had a record quarter with iPhone sales growing by 131 percent and with our new iPhone OS 4.0 software coming this summer, we see no signs of the competition catching up any time soon.

Of course, due to promotions, a variety of carriers, the then upcoming release of iPhone 4, and the fact that Android phones are a good product, it seems the competition is indeed catching up. According to Tomi Ahonen, writing for the investment website the Motley Fool, at the end of the month of May  Google “came out with the statement that they now sell 100,000 Smartphones per day.”

That would mean that in the second quarter of 2010 Google is selling Smartphones at the rate of 36 million units per year.  According to a Reuters report, Apple sold 8.75 million iPhones in the first quarter of 2010. Using current sales rates, that would put Apple’s current yearly sales total at 35 million units.  Ahonen states that Google’s “Android Smartphone has definitely passed iPhone unit sales globally in Q2 of this year.”

The reduction in iPhone sales last quarter could be because many Apple loyalists are buying iPads.  And of course the reported Android sales figures are based on sales prior to the launch of Apple’s new iPhone  4.  However Android manufactures’ like Motorola, who is developing a new lighting fast Android phone, intend to keep up with any new momentum that the iPhone 4 may give Apple.

It’s no secret that being in the spotlight makes you the guy to beat.  So it should come as no surprise that Apple has smartphone competitors that intend to catch up with iPhone sales, or to continue to surpass them, depending on who you believe.

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