back to article Apple iPhone 4S grabs back ground lost to Android

Apple's decision to launch a tweaked iPhone 4 - the 4S - rather than a brand new iPhone 5 may have flabbergasted some pundits, but punters have taken to the phone and narrowed the gap between iOS and Android. According to US market watcher Nielsen, during the three months of October, November and December 2011, Android's share …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So one fanboi with who buys three incrementally upgraded iPhones = three Android users with a phone each?

    Also, Nielsen only measures the US market. Worldwide the gap is significantly larger in Androids favour.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Don't Android users ever upgrade then?

    2. Mr Cheddarfingers

      File this under "No shit!"

      Apple fails to release a new iPhone for almost 18 months, then when it finally does the fanboys buy it.

      It's hardly suprising, due to contract lengths the delay means that there was a bigger pool of people than normal waiting to upgrade / holding off upgrading for the new version when this was released. If they manage to get back on schedule with the iPhone 5 for a June/July release then I wouldn't be suprised to see it's one of the lowest selling on release iPhones yet. I suspect Apple may now push all releases back to the November period including the iPhone 5 for precisely this reason though, or even drop the one year release cycle altogether and stick to 18 months so they can keep making their per-device release sales look ever more impressive, despite the reality being a noticable decrease in growth.

      The long term, and global trend, will still be decline in marketshare for Apple though, last round of stats showed that globally, Apple's share of the smartphone market has dropped to a pitiful 15%.

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  2. Ivan Headache

    It may not just be the 4S

    I notice now that the iPhone3s is now available free on some contracts so that could well be inflating the figures.

    I still note on my daily train journeys, that iPhones outnumber every other phone I see.

    1. Mr Cheddarfingers

      @ Ivan Headache

      "I still note on my daily train journeys, that iPhones outnumber every other phone I see."

      That's great, on my daily train journeys I notice that they don't, not by a longshot. They're numbering only maybe 1 in 5 phones now on my journeys.

      But that's hardly surprising, because 1 in 5 is much closer to their global marketshare of a mere 15%, so I think I'll trust the stats, and my anecdote that seems to match those stats, more than your anecdote which is massively different to the actual stats. Where do you catch the train to each day, Cupertino?

      1. Silverburn

        @ Cheddar

        Sorry Cheds, but I'm another public transport user that sees vastly more idevices than android devices. And not just any devices - most here are version 4's. And it's the flip of your figures - I see 5 IOS's for 1 Android. And there's no Cupertino here in land of clocks, cheese and chocolates...

        However, for balance, it should be noted that the android model I see the most of is the Galaxy SII; it's the most popular Android here by some margin.

        And the Blackberries? What do they look like again?

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        3. Paul 135

          @Silverburn, RE:The Swiss

          You are talking about Switzerland - the land with the greatest % market penetration of iDevices anywhere in the world.

          Having lived and work there, iSheepery suits the Swiss mindset perfectly.

          If a Swiss person sees two items of exactly the same quality (say two eggs) then the Swiss person will almost always choose the more expensive item, for no other reason than superficial bragging rights to show how much money they have. I'm not sure if this is still the trend there, but another example a couple of years ago: if you went onto a Swiss train in the colder months and you'll notice that half of all the people on the train are wearing exactly the same £250 Burberry scarf (a damn ugly brown tartan might I add). I remember also finding it impossibletofinda reasonably priced watch there -they sneered at my eventual choice of cheap Casio from Argos back in Blighty but my Casio had better features and better time-keeping than their over-priced shiny. (all this is helped by the high valueof the Swiss Franc due to its tax haven and dodgy tax-evading banking practices).

          Appl€ is perfect for the Swiss - the more overpriced you make the shiny the more likelythey'll they'll buy it.

          1. Anonymous Coward

            @Paul 135 RE: The Swiss - good for them

            Big fan of most things Swiss.

            New iPhone 4S White 64GB is the perfect accessory for Rolex Explorer II (purchased '80 at Bucherer, Geneva. UK Customs taxes paid !). Also have Burberry scarf somewhere.........

            Wear Casio watch on mountain bike.

            Latest watch is a Citizen Eco which is apparently powered by something called "the Sun".

            iCloud sync to Frankfurt nuclear clock.

            Isn't this stuff wonderful ?

            Retired iSheep

            1. Mr Cheddarfingers


              Look, I know Reg readers are for the most part uneducated Daily Mail reading types, but my earlier point about anecdotal evidence was that it doesn't matter how many of you come forward with your anecdotal evidence (yes, it's still anecdotal, even if you fucking count the things each day), it's still anecdotal.

              The point is, that my anecdotal evidence is anecdotal too, but my evidence also matches more closely with the cold hard stats. This means that you either just happen to take a very iPhone biased route for some reason, or you're full of shit, because the reality is that iPhones really are outnumbered by Android handsets on the order of about 4 to 1 on average.

              You can come here with your anecdotes of how you saw 10 iPhones last night to 1 Android on your train, but it still doesn't matter, because what that means is that someone, somewhere else, is sat on a train where there are 40 Android phones to each iPhone to make the stats balance - that's the problem with anecdotes, they're one person's individual experience, that may vary greatly from the general case, and must vary greatly from the general case if they do not relate to cold hard factual statistics.

              Look, I get it, you backed the wrong horse, and now feel a fool for picking the product whose marketshare is in decline as a longer term trend, and want to protect that, I really do, this is the pit all fanboys fall into when they realise they backed the wrong horse, but that doesn't mean by coming here and saying "Well it's all wrong because I was a BILLION BILLION iPhones last night when I was in a restauran!" will make what you want to be true, actually true, it'll just mean you're wrong, and full of shit.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Cor Blimey

                Since when did buying a mobile 'phone become a matter of "backing the right horse"? I go to church and the pub for that kind of bigotry and stupidity or listen to American right wing politics.

                Actually, I think I trust human observation more than so called statistics. Who is paying for those statistics? How are they obtained? How are they calculated? What do they represent? What factors do they take into account? Who collected them? What sampling methodology was used?

                What was it? There are lies, damned lies and statistics.

                Who cares?

          2. PJI


            How long were you here, a week? Where, just one small village?

            After many, many years here, I can say you are wrong and spouting pure propaganda. You also have not got a very good eye for scarves or their prices. I also visit UK, seem to find myself a fair bit in Germany and so on. They too seem very fond of iPhones. But UK seems the most fanatical.

            I actually thought it would be cheaper to get an iPhone in UK - wrong of course. Worse, the demand is so high in UK that on two visits, last November and December, all Apple shops had none left (having found this so in Manchester I checked on line for the whole country) and that the competition to get one is so intense that, unlike in Switzerland, one has to book one's purchase by 21.00 hours the evening before and turn up to the right shop at the appointed time to collect it or lose your chance to purchase it. In Switzerland, I just walked into a shop and bought one there and then. A shop assistant in UK explained to me, that they had big queues, fights breaking out and had to employ security men to control the situation; so they had introduced the booking system.

            Are you sure you were in Switzerland, the one with four main languages, some rather tall hills and 20% foreigners?

            I can confirm the informal observations of other writers: From Zurich to Geneva, on ICs, S-Bahns and Regional trains, trams and buses, the iPhones and iPads have it, with a pretty good showing by macbooks.

            As for money being a factor: possibly. But then, in our society, money tends to be a product of success; successful people tend to have better judgement and ability than unsuccessful ones; so very often their choice of goods, being less constrained by immediate cash needs, is often better. Please do not claim that the less well off have no interest in fashion, even if it is not your fashion.

            I can imagine that buyers of iPhones hang onto their mobiles for longer than buyers of other makes and so those who want one have got one, with the inevitable result that, after a while, that market is close to saturation and the frequent swappers dominate the market with non-iPhone models. This is not to say which is best for most people, nor which is cheapest.

      2. Ivan Headache

        I ride the Central Line, the Bakerloo Line and the Victoria Line, and London Midland and London Overground. Some days I may all of them, some days none at all.

        However, my stats are not anecdotal, they are facts because I count each phone I see, and have been doing for a good number of months now (as my previous comments will verify). So far I have not a had a count that puts the iPhone at less than half, it's invariably around two thirds and there has been one journey where eight out of ten phones in my field of view on a London Midland train out of Euston were iphones.

        The second most common phone I see is a Blackberry.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          You do what?

          "they are facts because I count each phone I see"

          Sorry, but that is not only very far from normal, but not a little creepy.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That's because trains have become so expensive the only people who can afford to use them these days are also likely to be in the iPhone demographic...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Thats say you can recognise a jesus mobe at a distance?

        From it's more affordable Samsung droid alternatives? Doesn't that undermine the fruity copycat plethora of lawsuits?

        Quite a few of my jebus phone owning colleagues have commented on my SGS thinking it's a jebus phone. Wondering possibly if the bigger screen is the new one. And no..I'm not a Barrista!

        Oh well. I'm sure the apple sales will vastly increase when they bring out a new know like the old one but in ..a new colour....

        1. Silverburn
          Thumb Down

          @ AC 13:50

          Why yes actually.

          The giveaway starts with the white earphones, the location of the headphone socket, the physical size and normally ends with the white casing and metal surround. Even with bumper cases, they're easy to spot.

          Not to mention you can normally see their screens and home button style as you walk past to your seat anyway.

          And more affordable? Seen the prices of S2's recently? has the iphone at $592, and the S2 at $605, both in 16gb versions.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't trust these figures

    Reason being, I expect this S2 to last at least two years. With some people renewing their iPhones on each new phone release, which are roughly one a year (with a gap in 2010, I believe) it makes me wonder just what these figures are really worth.

    1. ThomH Silver badge

      On the other hand, some people also upgrade their Android phones religiously and quite a lot of iPhone contracts are two years, so quite a lot of iPhone users aren't upgrading. The story is also that the new release sales bump has lasted a lot longer than it did on previous releases, and the linked Nielsen data states that only 57% of those iPhone purchases were the latest model.

      That being said, I expect it's just — as other commenters have suggested — the proximity to Christmas and the new availability of the iPhone on certain networks. This bump may indicate a trend in terms of how long the iPhone's sales increase for after a new introduction but I'm confident the share will be back to 60:30 type levels in Android's favour just before the next iPhone launch comes around.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        A colleague held on for three months replacing her 3gs jebus mobe.

        until she could get the 4s. By the end of the two years the battery was holding charge for about 5 hours. It was borked! Shame you can't just pop a new one in like in a sensible design

        1. johnnymotel
          Thumb Down

          sensible design as in...

          the Nokia Lumia 800....

          doesn't that one have a built in battery too??

  4. DrXym Silver badge


    Given the 4S released before Christmas it doesn't seem that surprising if it enjoyed some resurgence in sales. Android is still quite obviously in the lead though even in the US where the race is likely to be closer than elsewhere,

    The big news to me is how pathetically other platforms are doing. RIM in particular, but also Microsoft. One would expect to see a spike in sales over Christmas but if it happened for Microsoft, it hardly budged their overall market share.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    stupid people or stupid stats?

    Either there are a hell of a lot of stupid people in america desperate to own an over priced phone that offered nothing new other than siri - which cant understand vast amounts of american accents anyway. OR those stats are flawed. OR both :)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No big surprise when you look at market share - Android is installed on millions of cheap handsets - if you looked it at 'by value' things would be quite different again.

    People get Android handsets 'by default' - they go into he Vodafone store or Carphone Warhouse when an upgrade is due and it's easy to swap their old candy-bar for a new 'smart' phone - but I suspect many of them continue to use it just as a phone.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "So one fanboi with who buys three incrementally upgraded iPhones = three Android users with a phone each?"

    It's actually the other way around - I find that iPhones get upgraded and the old model given to other family members (as it's still a good handset) - yet Android ages very quickly as manufacturers / mobile operators drop models after 12-18 months and it ends up running ancient or vulnerable versions. At least iOS 5 is still available for the iPhone 3GS and that is pretty old now.

    So those 3 iPhones that were sold are probably still in use whereas the older Android handsets are probably sitting in a draw.

  8. technome

    Title? Whatever...

    Verizon and Sprint customers are migrating from a platform of necessity to their platform of choice.

    Expect more of this.

  9. dotdavid


    "Apple's decision to launch a tweaked iPhone 4 - the 4S - rather than a brand new iPhone 5 may have flabbergasted some pundits, but punters have taken to the phone"

    Face it, the punters don't care what "the latest iPhone" is called - they just want to buy "the latest iPhone". A lot of them will have been holding off buying until "the latest iPhone" came out, in this case the 4S. I doubt they even looked at the specs.

    As long as Apple remains trendy that will always be the case.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "to own an over priced phone that offered nothing new"

    You mean apart from a faster camera, better battery, new antenna, new OS, new camera etc.

    What did you actually expect them to add - they could have easily called it the iPhone 5 and perhaps some people would have been happier then...?

    What hardware can you add to any phone these days that is not making the CPUs faster, more storage, higher res. screen, better camera, more battery life. All phone upgrades are fairly incremental these days.

    1. cortezcortez

      Yes a better camera (well done Sony) but you said it twice.

      Not new antenna, antenna that works.

      New OS, yes, that can be used on older iPhones (admittedly without Siri which is crap anyway, though the plain old 4 is in fact perfectly capable of running it).

      Not that much of an upgrade.

      1. Steve Todd Silver badge

        You missed out

        Faster CPU (twin Cotrex A9s rather than a single A8), faster GPU (PowerVR SGX543MP2 vs SGX535) and a faster 3G radio (up to 7.2Mbits/sec). I can see how that's all trivial stuff that no one would want </sarcasm>

        1. cortezcortez

          All that, and yet only slighter better than a 4. What a triumph.

  11. Chad H.

    So at best...

    That puts Windows Mobile at 4.1%.

    I'm not even sure if the term "Also Ran" can be fairly applied...

    1. ThomH Silver badge

      It's worse than that

      Per the original Nielsen report (there's a link in the article but no reason to suspect it had the additional figures), WP7 is 1.3% of all users, including 1.4% of phones bought in the last three months. That makes it 50% more popular than Symbian, and almost 60% as popular as the Windows Mobile platform it inherits from.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    not hard data, but guestimates

    Nielsen does not draw from direct sales figures but form surveys, volunteers and a limited amount of billing data:

    'This report draws from a broad range of Nielsen data sources, including: Nielsen’s in-depth monthly surveys of mobile consumers (more than 300,000 consumers surveyed each year); Device metering data from the iOS and Android smartphones of thousands of consumers who have volunteered to be a part of our research panel; detailed, monthly analysis of the cellphone bills for 65,000 lines in the U.S., again, thanks to volunteer panelists.'

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "As long as Apple remains trendy that will always be the case."

    It's not a case of being 'trendy' - most people want a phone that works well and is easy to use = iPhone. Android is still a bit rough around the edges and Android on one phone is not the same as Android on another - whereas a iPhone user knows it will work the same.

    My mate has a Galaxy Note - he's had it a few months and is 'still' waiting for the new version of Android - that is as long as Samsung do not fall out with Google / Motorola and bother to finish it. So he has a brand new, pretty top of the line handset that doesn't run the latest software. He also muttered something about it not being able to properly use both cores - I lost interest at that point as I'd be p*ssed if I bought a dual core phone that could only use one core.

    1. Silverburn

      To follow on, as well as having UI consistency, iphones have not increased in size since introduction - they still fit in the same pockets than Gen 1 did, and don't have the Don Johnson look when on a call. Some of the latest gen Androids (the note especially) are guilty of 'size creep', and having used one (S2) as a work phone for a few months, I've surprisingly found the pocketability more important than screen real estate, and was glad to go back to my old iphone. I didn't miss the increased screen size at all.

      Before the deluge of fandroid downvotes floods in, I should state that your own mileage may vary.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The problem is so many manufacturers call them 'smart' phones when in reality what they mean is something like a Nokia S40 based handset that is cheap and technically could load a web page and collect email but in the real world would rarely be used for that. Same goes for most of the older Blackberry devices (as not many people are buying the new ones) - they are typically just used for email which is 'barely' a smartphone.

    1. cortezcortez
      Big Brother

      I remember the day the iPhone was first announced. It was referred to on it's newly-updated Wikipedia article as a smartphone, until someone dared put their head above the parapet to point out that - according to the long-standing definition of a smartphone on that subject's Wiki page - the new Apple device didn't actually qualify as one. Within minutes, the smartphone page was rewritten (by people with long Apple-article-editing histories) and hey presto, the iPhone suddenly met fully the criteria found there. Anyone (like me) who dared reverse or amend the edits or questioned the motives in the comments page was attacked and/or reported for "vandalism".

      I think a similar thing happened across the tech community at the same time....

  15. lurker

    "Apple has never dominated smartphone planned buying to this extent"

    Last time I checked, you need to actually be in the lead to be "dominating".

    Given that even those carefully cherry-picked graphs (US only, showing only "Recent Smartphone Acquirers) show more sales of Android than iOS, I'd say that was a pretty biased view of the situation.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    'size creep'

    Not exactly how I would put it - the galaxy note is double the size of an iPhone 4 - yes of course the screen is also bigger but you need gorilla hands to hold it and clown pockets to carry it.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't really think it's fair to compare single manufacturer Apple with the iPhone against ALL the other manufacturers who make Android handsets (i.e. HTC, Morotola, Samsung and many others). Perhaps it would be fairer to compare sales of the iPhone 4s against the Galaxy IIs.

    Most normal users do not know or care it's an 'Android' as with all the tweaks and UI changes using one could be quite a different experience to using another.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm actually quite happy the iPhone is not larger - most of these new Android handsets are too big. I'm also quite happy they did not change the physical size so it still fits the same car cradle etc.

    Some of these Android handsets are trying to be both phone and tablet and ending up being too big as a phone and too small as a tablet.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm sure if Apple gave iOS away as effectively Google do with Android you would see a lot more iOS handsets (not that Apple would). These surveys are not comparing which is better - they are just saying that Android gets given away and people end up with it by default.

    If you were buying a handset and it could be pre-installed with either Android or iOS I recon most people would choose iOS.

    Perhaps Apple should port Android to run on iPhone hardware - many people want the iPhone for the design and performance and iOS - don't imagine many running Android on it instead of iOS.

  20. cortezcortez

    Let's take another look a few months after the Galaxy S II is released, and the 4S is old.

    1. Silverburn

      Not sure what parallel universe you're channelling in from, but the S2 has been out for donkey's (May 2011), and the 4S is the relative newcomer (October 2011) in this universe.

      1. cortezcortez

        Doh, I meant S III.

        But surely, you could have worked that out?

  21. JS Greenwood

    This article has misinterpreted what Nielsen have said... And what they said was based on a dubious enough measurement criteria to begin with - let's not make it worse, eh?

    First problem: What Nielsen talk about is NEW HANDSET UPTAKE, not MARKET SHARE as you talk about. Android's overall market share has NOT dropped by 15%+ in 3 months - it's actually grown. Their number of handsets being sold has just not outstripped iPhones by as much. Suggest a Find and Replace on all the market share statements.

    Second problem: This survey takes the 3 months following the launch of a new halo device. Of course it's going to create a rise in demand, as it'll be picking up customers who had been holding off for a new model. I don't think it'll come as any surprise when the first few months of increased sales tail off as the rumour mill begins on the iPhone 5 / 4S++ / etc. What would be useful would be comparing the increase in demand following the launch of the 4S to that of the 4 and 3GS.

    Some real analysis to with the lightweight survey would have been luuuurverly, please thankyou.

  22. JohnsonVonJohnson

    It's not hard to imagine

    It's not difficult to see why anyone would go back to an iPhone after being inflicted with an android device. iPhones and Windows phones work easily and integrate into most everything you require... flash and java free for the iDevices, of course.

    Cloudbrowse helps a bit with that though.

    The biggest problem we have at our University is that the Android devices are absolute crap for both email and wireless setups. We don't use basic WPA like you would at home, nor do we have basic IMAP or POP access. When you DO get an android device to work with wireless, most of them randomly drop their connection. 3G works great, but wireless support is terrible across several manufacturers devices.

    Email will work on one android phone, but not another... set up using exchange or IMAP, even with the same OS version. Email will sometimes work, and then inexplicably fail, and can then the account will not work if you remove it and re-add using the same settings. You have to reset your phone to factory to re-add. Very frustrating experience. I have to setup between 20-30 android devices per day, and it's always a crapshoot.

  23. Ivan Headache

    simple things

    Just to add to some of the comments above about consistency and ase of use.

    The lovely Ivana, in a fit of rebellion, has just taken delivery of a Samsung Galaxy Mini (free from T-Mobile) because her sister had got one!

    After getting it set up so that she could actually call people I kept getting asked why everything was so quiet when people called her. On checking I found that the volume was only just above minimum each time - then I noticed why. Unlike the iPhone where the on/off switch it on the top, Samsung have put their's on the right hand edge - just where the thumb falls for a righthanded user. In order to press the button to activate the phone you have to apply pressure to the left hand side of the phone - and guess what is there, immediately under the finger that'sproviding the resistance - yep, the volume down button. So to turn on the phone, she automatically turns down the volume. To turn the phone off - she automatically turns down the volume. At least its conssistent. But it's the same if you try to use the left hand, this ti,e the thumb is on the volume down button.

    The other thing that is happening (the rough edges that someone mentioned) is that I keep getting calls on my phone (and so do a lot of her friends) that are unintentional - not trouser incidents, but made while she is actually trying to do something. Today I had one, "Sorry Ivan, I'm trying to find out who called me and everytime I look for missed calls I end up calling someone I didn't mean to." Sometimes it happens sveral times in 2 or 3 minutes.

    She's beginning to regret listening to her sister now and not her ever-loving!

    1. MerlynUK

      With respect to the side power button on the SGS2 and the accidental pressing of the volume down button, might i suggest that the phone is being held wrongly!(Joke!) Seriously I had the same misgivings abouth the SGS2 which is why I went for a different Android handset after having an iPhone 3GS for 2 years. With regards to the iPhone 3GS one of the biggest issues i had was the mute switch on the side - a great idea but very badly designed, it was far, far to easy to accidentally switch the phone onto mute when in your pocket, I missed countless calls because of this 'feature'. Now, the iPhone 4 and later have a redesigned mute switch so I assume that this problem has been rectified somewhat but it just goes to show that Apple don't always get their design right everytime! And as for accidently calling people, I found that happening on the iPhone ALL the time, thats the penalty for having a responsive touchscreen and not manually locking the phone after every call, so its not just an Android issue!

      For the last 6 months of my contract I couldn't wait to get rid of my iPhone and get an Android so that I could set the phone up the way I wanted and not the way Apple wanted, I found iOS very limiting and frustrating. Time will tell if Android does what I want it to do better, but so far the novelty factor of playing with a new, flexible, customisable OS has not worn off and so far so good, and Ice Cream Sandwich is due for release for my handset in a few weeks...

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