The numbers are in and the fall 2011 launch of Apple's 4S iPhone mid-life upgrade proved to be enough to propel the iOS platform to near parity with Android's dominant marketshare. Both Nielsen Research and NPD Group announced recently that the world's two most popular smartphone operating systems are within just a few points of each other, with RIM, Windows and all others in the proverbial dust.   

NPD Group was first to report the autumn performance, showing the iOS market share grew from just 26% in September 2011 to 43% by October and November.  Most of Apple's growth came at the expense of Android, which shed 13 points in the period, down to 47% from its high of 60% share at the end of Q3.


Those results were confirmed today with Nielsen's Q4 Mobile Insights results showing Apple's iOS share grew to 44.5% from an end of Q3 low of 25.1% market share.  That was just shy of the Android OS 46.9% market share, leaving Google's Open Source Android OS still on top by a slim 2.4%.  

RIM Continues to Erode

In both reports, RIM BlackBerry is on a slow downward march, shedding 2% from Q3 numbers, down to just 6% of the operating system share in the US market by the end of December, according to NPD. In fact none of RIM's BlackBerry devices made the top ten smartphone models list that sold in the period. The top three slots all went to Apple running its iOS, and illustrates Apple's source of dominance and growth in the quarter. 

Apple's closest device competitor was Samsung, which had three of the top ten smartphones selling at number four, five and nine on the list (Galaxy S 4G, Galaxy S II and Epic 4G respectively.)  HTC's Inspire 4G was in sixth and the Evo 4G was in eighth place, according to NPD. Motorola took seventh slot with its Droid Bionic, and LG was in tenth, with the Revere.   

Smartphone Growth Continues in US

Nielsen also reported that 46% of US mobile consumers had a smartphone, and those numbers are also growing.  It said 60% of new mobile device purchases were of the smartphone class, according to their survey results.  NPD showed the smartphone growth at 67% in October / November in a chart called Device Type Mix of Handsets. That number was up from 59% in Q3-11 and showed growth of 21 points over Q3-2010 (see chart.)    


The numbers that track US operating system and smartphone market share came from NPD Group's Consumer Tracking Service, Mobile Phone Track on January 9. The company tracks sales of products through the channel rather than shipments, which can skew the results through a practice called channel stuffing. Nielsen Mobile insights surveyed consumers on what device they purchased in the last quarter.