Apple driving smartphone adoption in the US, Android leading the way in Japan

Consumers now have a wealth of interesting options to choose from whey they come to purchase their next mobile phone. The big decision for a majority of consumers is no longer whether to buy a feature phone or a smartphone, but whether to buy a smartphone running iOS or Android.

In the US, 55 percent of consumers who purchased a new device in the last three months from March to May 2011 chose a smartphone over a feature phone; a huge increase from the 21 percent of recent smartphone acquirers from the same period in 2010.

In a June 30 post on its blog, market researcher Nielsen revealed that overall smartphone ownership has reached 38 percent in the US.

A majority of smartphones in the country run Google's Android OS (38 percent).

Apple may be second to Google in the US in terms of both operating system (OS) share (with 27 percent of the market) and recent acquirer device OS share (17 percent to Google's 27 percent), however, iPhone ownership has grown significantly over the last three months.

Android ownership has remained flat at 27 percent.

The majority of Apple's 7 percent growth has been ceded by RIM's BlackBerry platform, of which new device acquisition fell from 11 percent to 6 percent during the three month period.

In Japan, the opposite can be said. In a report published on June 30, market analyst comScore noted that Google had succeeded Apple as the number one smartphone platform in the country, doubling its installed user base from 2.2 million to 4.6 million in the three months from December 2010 to March 2011.

"The surge in smartphone adoption during the past six months has been led by Android devices, which has increased its installed base by nearly 3.8 million users while the market as a whole has grown by 4.1 million users," said comScore.

In March 2011, 3.9 million Japanese consumers owned an iPhone, up from 3.8 million in December 2010.

"Although Google Android has become the largest smartphone platform, Apple iPhones remain atop the list of most popular devices in Japan," said comScore.

Japan's most popular smartphone devices by audience are the Apple iPhone 4 32GB, the Sony Ericsson Xperia, the Apple iPhone 4 16GB, the Apple iPhone 3GS 32GB and the Toshiba Regza Phone T01C.

"Although smartphone adoption rates in Japan have historically lagged behind the U.S. and Europe, we have witnessed the rapid increase of smartphone users in Japan throughout the past several months fueled by iPhone and Android devices. Smartphone adoption is increasing not only in the larger cities like Tokyo, but throughout the smaller regions as well, signaling what could be the beginning of a tide change in the Japanese mobile market," noted Daizo Nishitani, president of comScore Japan KK.

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