Despite Competition, Apple’s US Market Share Gains

on December 21, 2012

Happy Friday to anyone working today–or not working–and poking around the inter webs. Although it’s the Friday before the holiday break, some interesting data came out from the Kantar Worldpanel today that I thought I would highlight. Kantar’s latest smartphone sales data is showing that despite the increased competition, Apple has actually grown its smartphone platform market share in the United States.

Global Consumer Insight Director Dominic Sunnebo stated:

“Apple has reached a major milestone in the US by passing the 50% share mark for the first time, with further gains expected to be made during December.”

Other data from the report highlights platform share in other parts of the world and the various changes. However, despite all the questioning I continually see from the investor community of whether Apple can remain competitive despite increased competition, increase in latest Android smartphone subsidies from carriers, other platforms like Windows Phone 8 emerging, yet amidst those questions and what seems like steep odds, Apple is actually gaining market share.

Keep in mind this is all being done with a limited iPhone lineup. One current generation, and two legacy products still selling well in the marketplace. I’ve said for a while now that Apple is competing against an army of Android devices. The continual sales numbers and marketplace demand for the iPhone remains incredibly impressive despite the massive Android army they are competing with.

That alone is enough to show this market is not acting like many of the pundits and financial analysts assume. Many assume this market looks like the PC industry of old where the market is dominated by one single platform. Wrong on every level.

Take a deeper look at this chart (click on it to enlarge it) as it is very telling in a number of areas. First iOS grew from 35% to 53% in the US market, a change of 17.5% from the same period a year ago. Android went from 52.8% to 41.9% in the US market, a decline of 10.9%. The US market is arguably the most mature smartphone market on the planet. I wonder the degree other markets, as they mature, begin to look like the US, keeping in mind the carriers and how and what devices they subsidize over others. All things equal, however, may paint a similar picture. And don’t think for a second the US an insignificant market and/or litmus test for others. No sane executive at any OEMs believes that and in fact I continually hear from them how important the US market is.

This is a huge market and keep in mind the total addressable market for smartphones is not static but it is dynamic. It is growing by hundreds of millions of new customers every year and will do so for at least the next five years. So to say Apple has increased market share in the US, means that they are also attracting new customers and benefiting from the TAM expansion, arguably more than any current vendor.

I’m yet to write my predictions for 2013, and I will the week following the holiday break. But I believe the smartphone market will look very different this time next year and perhaps not in some of the ways assumed by the pundits.