January 3, 2011 at 10:32 am

Android, iPhone, Blackberry Are ‘Statistically’ (But Not Really) Tied

Nielsen released its latest smartphone marketshare estimates, which are well worth monitoring if you own a smartphone, or have any interest in picking one up, due to what might be called the wisdom of the herd.

According to the firm’s Monday findings, the three dominant smartphone platforms — Apple iPhone, Google Android, and RIM Blackberry — were within the range of statistical equivalence in November, the most recent month for which this data is available. However, given the shape of the graph, it’s unlikely that those three will share the top spot for long:

Although a major trend from Blackberry to Android is clearly evident, the three platforms are more or less even right now in terms of U.S. adoption.

Yes, as Nielsen points out, these lines converge in November, but their overall message is unmistakable: As Apple maintains an impressive position, Android appears to be happily eating Blackberry’s lunch.  If you follow the gray and green lines, a close showdown between Apple and Google appears all but inevitable.

As the app model extends other platforms – web browserstabletstelevisions and cars, for starters –consumers’ later buying decisions will be guided somewhat by decisions made today, because purchasing apps for one platform now gives you a financial allegiance to it later. That gives these early app platform numbers an added resonance.

Nielsen’s analysis singles out recent acquirers of smartphones, finding — as one would suspect, given the above chart — that Android attracted the most new customers during the same period, which is good news for Google and Android users:

Starting in July, smartphone purchasers primarily chose Google Android followed by Apple iPhone and finally RIM Blackberry, which sold less than half as often as many units as Android in November.

The also company found that smartphones continue to achieve moderate penetration of the mainstream, with 45 percent of recent cellphone purchasers opting for a smartphone instead of a “feature” (i.e. limited-app) phone.