Android sales have declined in the U.S., helping iOS regain the top spot among smartphone platforms sold in the three-month period ending in October, according to the latest research from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.
The survey found iOS now has 48.1 percent of the U.S. smartphone market, an increase of 25.7 percentage points on the same period last year, while Android sales declined 16.6 percentage points to 46.7 percent of the market placing the platform behind iOS for the first time since April 2012.
The figures from Kantar are different from a recent comScore MobiLens survey that found that Android is dominating with 53.6 percent of the market after a 1.4 percentage point increase. Apple was in second with 34.3 percent of the market after a 0.9 percentage point increase. Both surveys rely on user interviews, but the comScore survey does not include the month of October, while Kantars does.
The month of October is relevant to this study because this is when iPhone 5 sales took off after a late September launch. Kantar attributes Apple's double-digit rise in share specifically to the iPhone 5.
Kantar Worldpanel ComTech analyst Mary-Ann Parlato said: Our research shows that the majority of Apples sales, 62 percent, came from existing Apple owners upgrading to the new device. Additionally, of the smartphones sold by AT&T during this period, iOS accounted for two out of every three.
Also thanks to the iPhone 5, AT&T has regained its spot as the top-selling smartphone carrier for the latest period, with 34.7 percent of smartphones sold, overtaking Verizon at 27.5 percent. Sprint and T-Mobile follow with 19.9 percent and 8.4 percent, respectively.
AT&T has seen the most significant growth in smartphone sales, up 8.4 percentage points, while T-Mobile had the largest decline at 5.4 percentage points. This is notable because T-Mobile remains the only top carrier that does not sell the iPhone.
Kantars survey also found sales increases for AT&T trickled down to the iPhones lower-priced predecessors, the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4, which are sold at a discount, $99 and free with a two-year contract, respectively.
Its not surprising to see the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S benefiting from the release of the iPhone 5, Mary-Ann Parlato added. At AT&T, 38.3 percent of feature phone customers who changed device in the last three months, changed to an iPhone, a figure higher compared to Android at 11.9 percent. So while the iPhone 5 has seen movement amongst current Apple users, there is also now greater availability for first time smartphone buyers to join the Apple user base.
However, Android remains the top platform for Verizon, but sales shares declined year-on-year from 60.1 percent to 50.5 percent for the OS. Even for Verizon iOS is closing the gap, where it represents 47.9 percent of smartphones the carrier sold in the latest period.