Apple Leapfrogs Motorola and HTC to Become No. 3 Phone Seller in U.S.

Published on April 28, 2011
by Ina Fried

Everyone knows that the iPhone is doing pretty well in the smartphone market, but it turns out Apple’s sales are now strong enough to make the company the third-largest seller of all types of phones in the U.S.

According to NPD, Apple leapfrogged both HTC and Motorola to move into the No. 3 spot with 14 percent of the overall phone market, boosted by the arrival of the iPhone on Verizon. Samsung still tops the U.S. market with 23 percent, followed by LG at 18 percent.

“Apple and Verizon had a very successful launch of the iPhone 4, which allowed the iPhone to expand its market share that was previously held back by its prolonged carrier exclusivity with AT&T,” said Ross Rubin, executive director of industry analysis at NPD, in a statement. “While some of that growth came at the expense of Android operating system, Android models still accounted for half of all smartphones sold in the quarter.”

However, Android’s share of the smartphone market dipped in the quarter, NPD said, to 50 percent in the first quarter from 53 percent in last year’s fourth quarter. Apple’s iOS rose nine percentage points, accounting for 28 percent of smartphone units sold, while BlackBerry lost five points of market share, falling to 14 percent.

For the first time, smartphones overall accounted for more than half of all phones sold in the U.S., with consumers opting for a smartphone 54 percent of the time. That lead to a 2 percent rise in the average selling price of phones, to $102. The trend of more smartphones at lower average prices should continue, Rubin said.

“We’ve started to increasingly see lower-priced handsets come in, both at the major carriers and at some of the regional carriers as well,” Rubin said in a telephone interview. Rubin noted that consumers are starting to move to Android at carriers that cater to the more price-sensitive segments of the market, including carriers such as Cricket, Sprint’s Boost Mobile brand and Metro PCS.

“Despite the higher fees, consumers are adopting those handsets, as they are important to stay in touch with the rest of the world,” Rubin said.

The iPhone 4 was the top individual phone model, followed by the iPhone 3GS, Motorola Droid X, HTC EVO 4G, and HTC Droid Incredible. Overall for the quarter, smartphone sales grew 8 percent from the fourth quarter, but total phone sells fell 1 percent.

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