Smartphones, 4G Dominate Cellular Launches

By Joseph Palenchar On May 23 2011 - 4:01am




NEW YORK – The Android OS and 4G data technology dominated recent smartphone introductions as carriers continue to aggressively promote – and consumers eagerly snap up – the latest in smartphone technology.

Handset highlights include:

• The first two 4G smartphones from Research In Motion, both equipped with the company’s new BlackBerry 7 OS.

• The expansion of AT&T’s 4G HSPA+ smartphone selection to four with the launch of the Androidbased Samsung Infuse 4G and the Hewlett-Packard Veer, which is the first 4G WebOS-based smartphone announced to date.

• A pair of mini-sized 3G Android phones from SonyEricsson;

• The launch of Sprint’s first enterprise- grade Android phone, which is also the carrier’s first Android phone equipped with international roaming;

• The second Android phone for Sprint’s Nextel network.

• and Verizon’s first dual-core 1GHz smartphone, the Motorola-made Droid X2.

Carriers’ focus on launching and promoting smartphones is driving up smartphone ownership, according to multiple consumer surveys. The Nielsen Company found that 36 percent of cellphone subscribers in the first quarter of 2011 used a smartphone, up from 28 percent in the third quarter of 2010.

For its part, comScore found that 72.5 million people in the U.S. owned smartphones during the three months ending in March, up 15 percent from the preceding three-month period.

Measuring smartphone popularity by first-quarter consumer purchases, NPD’s “Mobile Phone Track” survey found for the first time that a majority (54 percent) of all new cellphones purchased by U.S. consumers were smartphones. The purchases exclude purchases by enterprises.

Among those purchasing or planning to purchase a smartphone, Android is the preferred OS of choice, several surveys found.

In the first quarter, Nielsen found, 31 percent of consumers who said they planned to get a new smartphone indicated Android was their preferred OS, up from a third-quarter 2010’s 26 percent. The intent to buy Apple iPhones dipped to 30 percent from 33 percent, and BlackBerry OS buying intentions fell to 11 percent from 13 percent.

Android also leads among current smartphone users. In the first quarter, a comScore survey found, Android’s smartphone share grew 6 percentage points to 34.7 percent from the preceding quarter. RIM following in second place at 27.1 percent, Apple grew sequentially by 0.5 percentage points to 25.5 percent, and Microsoft and Palm followed with 7.5 percent and 2.8 percent, respectively.

In terms of first-quarter handset purchases by consumers, Android also led the way, accounting for 50 percent of all smartphone purchases, NPD found. Also in the first quarter, Apple’s smartphone share rose 9 percentage points to 28 percent of smartphone unit sales, presumably due in part to the first-quarter launch of Verizon’s iPhone. The BlackBerry OS share fell five percentage points to 14 percent.

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