Nielsen: iPhone closes the gap with Android

Surprise! It turns out that the iPhone 4S is a pretty popular device.

American consumers gobbled up iPhones in November and December, according to the latest data from Nielsen, as Apple’s ever-popular smartphone helped close the gap with rival mobile OS Android. Nielsen’s latest consumer survey, conducted between October and December 2011, found that 44.5 percent of new smartphone buyers purchased an iPhone in December, while 46.9 percent purchased an Android device. In October, by contrast, just 25.1 percent of new smartphone buyers purchased an iPhone while 61.6 percent of new buyers purchased an Android device.

The explanation for this iPhone surge over the span of two months is pretty simple, says Nielsen: It’s all about the iPhone 4S. Nielsen found that 57 percent of new iPhone buyers in December reported buying an iPhone 4S, the newest version of the iPhone that came out this past fall. Among other things, the newest iPhone features Siri, the voice-enabled personal assistant, as well as access to Apple’s iCloud online storage service.

In terms of overall U.S. smartphone market share, Nielsen found that Android maintained a comfortable lead at 46.3 percent of the market while Apple’s iOS came in second with a 30 percent share of the market. In its previous survey released in September last year, Nielsen found that Android had a 39 percent share of the U.S. smartphone market while iOS had a 28 percent share.

Nielsen’s survey also found that Research in Motion’s share of the U.S. smartphone market has continued to deteriorate over the past three months. RIM’s BlackBerry OS saw its market share drop to just less than 15 percent of U.S. smartphone users over the past quarter, down from 20 percent in Nielsen’s previous survey. What’s more, the percentage of new smartphone buyers who reported buying a BlackBerry plunged to just 4.5 percent in December this year, down from 6.4 percent in November and 7.7 percent in October.

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