Android Lead Over iOS Narrows Thanks To T-Mobile
July 8, 2013

Android Lead Over iOS Narrows Thanks To T-Mobile

Michael Harper for - Your Universe Online

A new report from Kantar World Panel claims Android's lead over iOS is narrowing, thanks to a launch from an unlikely carrier.

This past April T-Mobile finally became the last of the large American carriers to offer the iPhone, eschewing the usual contracts enforced by other carriers. This, claims Kantar, has driven iOS adoption rates by 3.5 percent in a three month period ending in May 2013. Android adoption rates, like overall smartphone sales in the same period, have remained mostly flat, increasing by only 0.1 percent.

Though T-Mobile's overall iPhone sales are lower than those of AT&T and Verizon, its strong showing in the middle of the quarter leads Kantar's ComTech USA consumer panel to suggest that sales in the next quarter could be even stronger. Apple's iPhone is entering into a normally dry season as many await the latest release this fall, however.

Though showing signs of improvement, Kantar's numbers reveal iOS still lags behind Android in terms of new sales in the States. In the time since March (in which Samsung also released the new Galaxy S4), Android remained on top with 52 percent of new smartphone sales. Ever a two-horse race, Apple's iOS sales during the three months ending in May 2013 grew to 41.9 percent, up 0.9 percent year over year. Windows Phone is markedly falling behind at 3.4 percent of sales, an increase of 0.9 percent over last year.

Kantar's latest numbers also point out that sales rates between the carriers were also mostly flat over last year. Verizon remains in the lead as the top smartphone seller in the US with 34.6 percent. AT&T came in second with 29 percent and Sprint in third with 12.7 percent. Interestingly, though Kantar claims T-Mobile was down 3.4 percent year over year (placing them once again in fourth place overall), its iPhone sales have helped to drive iOS adoption rates.

"The highly anticipated release of the iPhone on T-Mobile has benefited iOS in the latest 3 month period, though it has not yet impacted T-Mobile's share in the market," explains Dominic Sunnebo, Kantar Worldpanel ComTech's global insight director, in a statement.

"iOS' strength on T-Mobile appears to be the ability to attract first time smartphone buyers, upgrading from a featurephone. Of T-Mobile consumers who bought an iOS device since it launched on the carrier, 53 percent had previously owned a featurephone, well above the market average of 45 percent of iOS owners who previously owned a featurephone."

Apple's latest, the iPhone 5, was the most popular smartphone for T-Mobile customers for the three-month period, despite its late release. Kantar's numbers find that overall iPhone sales, or other models of iPhone, accounted for 31 percent of T-Mobile's total smartphone sales. This number is still lower than competitors AT&T and Verizon, where iPhone sales accounted for 60.5 percent and 43.8 percent of new smartphones, respectively. Yet as Apple prepares to release another iPhone in the next three to four months, Sunnebo believes T-Mobile could be a major help for iOS.

"Furthermore, of T-Mobile customers planning to change device within the coming year, 28 percent plan to upgrade to an iPhone for their next device," said Sunnebo.

Though it's not yet seen if the iPhone will be able to help T-Mobile remain a viable contender against the other big three carriers in the US, Kantar's survey data holds that the struggling German-owned carrier has at least been able to narrow the gap between Google and Apple.