The numbers this week from two separate sources seem to indicate that Apple's iPhone may not be the runaway success that the iPod was and Apple shouldn't soon expect it to own a majority of the market.
Who's in the way? Android.
This weekend, Ars Technica published a story about Admob's recent findings on smartphone Web browsing marketshare. This month, Android is essentially in a dead heat with the iPhone in marketshare. From looking at the graph, you can see that, barring dramatic changes, Android will have surpassed iPhone next month.
Keep in mind that Admob is currently in the process of being acquired by Google. I'm not saying there was any tampering with numbers but ... just sayin'.
Need independent verification? Quantcast revealed similar numbers earlier this month.
Today, Changewave issued a study of purchasing plans of smartphone buyers in their admittedly limited pool of respondents. While people who planned on buying iPhones did rise slightly (1% to 29% overall), people who planned on buying Android phones increased 9% to 30% overall, indicating that Android uptake will continue to outpace that of the iPhone in the coming months.
There are some more takeaways from these two studies: One: Palm, Windows Mobile and Blackberry are in bad shape and have been relegated to niche players on the mobile Web. If things continue at the current pace, we'll soon only have two major Smartphone operating systems to choose from.
Even developers are cooling on iPhone and heating up on Android according to a report by Appcelerator today.
On a grander scale, we've already seen Apple's iPhone sales weakening, with the numbers at the last Apple earnings call falling below expectations.
Meanwhile, high-end Android phones like the Droid are selling for as little as $20 with a Verizon plan. The current "top Android" phone, the Nexus One, is expected to appear on the top US Network, Verizon later this year (making it available for all four big US networks + Canada). Around the time that new iPhones are due, Sprint will carry the first 4G phone, the Android-powered Supersonic/Evo, which will ascend to the top of the Android heap.
Apple's sales are typically cyclical as consumers know new iPhones come out in the summer. iPhone sales start out brisk and taper off at the beginning of the year and stay flat until June. This summer, Apple is expected to release a 960x640 pixel iPhone with front-facing camera and other goodies, including a multi-tasking OS and in-house A4 processor to fend off the Android assault.
Also, Apple has a much higher satisfaction rate than any of the Android manufacturers by a pretty wide margin, according to Changewave's study (below). Some Android phones are downright pitiful.
China may be the biggest factor. Apple plans on doubling down on the world's most populous nation while Google is backing out.
Apple currently is suing HTC for patent infringements widely believed to be aimed at its Android OS use. Apple is also hard at work on its new iPad tablet which is due out on Saturday.
This story, "Will Android Surpass the iPhone?" was originally published by Computerworld.