June 30, 2011 at 11:11 am

Nielsen: Most Americans Choose Smartphones; Apple Grows Fastest

neilsen smartphone sales

When it comes to following industry trends, smartphone sales figures have a special resonance for consumers, because the best smartphone platform is whichever one everyone else prefers.

For the first time, according to Nielsen, the majority of American phone-buyers (55 percent) reported buying a smartphone, up from 34 percent last year. The majority of U.S. phones are still the ironically-titled “feature” phones, which offer far fewer features, but the fact that we’ve reached this tipping point is good news for anyone who already has a smartphone. It will lead to more choice in apps — and better apps — as developers sell to a bigger market.

Android still comprises the majority of new smartphone buyers, which would be a good sign for Google, except that its growth is flattening as Apple’s increases. And that is happening even though Apple hasn’t introduced a new model since the iPhone 4, which debuted a year and a day ago.

nielsen android iphone

As the chart shows, Apple’s wedge of the chart continues to grow, as Android’s remains flat, even though Android’s 27-percent share beats Apple’s 17 percent by a decent margin. But despite Android’s lead in that area, the app developers we watch still consistently develop for iPhone first, then Android.

Why? For whatever reason, Android users don’t like to buy apps as much as iPhone users do, which makes iOS more attractive to developers, despite its smaller overall market share. Judging from the latest data, iOS adoption is growing faster because that’s where the apps are.

(Images courtesy of Nielsen)