Apple's iPhone narrows gap with Android among recent buyers

On the back of the iPhone 4S, Apple's share among new-smartphone buyers jumps 77 per cent

Apple's iPhone has made major inroads among recent buyers in its battle against smartphones running Google's Android, but still lagged behind its OS rival, according to pollster Nielsen.

In a December 2011 survey of US consumers who had purchased a smartphone in the previous three months, 44.5 per cent chose an iPhone, a jump of nearly 20 percentage points from the 25.1 per cent that Nielsen measured in October.

That represents a 77 per cent increase in the iPhone's numbers.

But Android retained the lead in the recent-buyers game with a 46.9 per cent share, down from October's 61.6 per cent.

A majority of the new iPhone owners - 57 per cent to be exact - bought an iPhone 4S, the newest model in Apple's line-up, said Nielsen. The iPhone 4S debuted in the U.S. on Oct. 14, 2011.

And Apple remains significantly behind Google in the battle for total smartphone share, with just 30 per cent of all smartphones running iOS in late 2011. Android, meanwhile, accounted for 46.3 per cent of the operating systems used by all smartphone owners.

Nielsen's data showed that Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 has yet to join the race: Its December 2011 share was only 1.3 per cent.

The pollster's numbers were in line with the most recent data from Internet metrics firm comScore , which last month said Android accounted for 46.9 per cent of all US smartphones in use during November 2011. Apple's share was 28.7 per cent.

Although neither Apple or Android smartphone manufacturers regularly release sales figures for the U.S., analysts expect that next week Apple will say it sold more than 30 million iPhones worldwide in the final quarter of 2011.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer , on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@computerworld.com .

See more articles by Gregg Keizer .

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