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US Smartphone OS Race Still Close, as Men, Younger Users Favor Android

Wealthiest consumers likelier to own an iPhone

Apple’s introduction of a major redesign of its iOS operating system—iOS 7—comes at a time when there is still a tight race in the US between the number of smartphone owners on Google’s Android operating system (OS) vs. Apple’s iOS. According to a survey from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, in May 2013, Android was ahead of iOS by 3 percentage points; Android ran on 28% of mobile phone owners’ smartphones, compared with 25% on iPhones running iOS.

BlackBerry and Windows had very limited penetration by comparison, at 4% of mobile phone owners and 1%, respectively.

Breaking down ownership by demographic, Pew found that there was an even split of women on iPhones and Android phones, at 26% each. For men, however, there was a skew toward Android: 31% of male mobile phone owners used Android smartphones, compared with 24% who owned an iPhone.

And among younger consumers—the age group with the highest rates of smartphone ownership—Android phones had a 12 percentage point lead over iPhones, with 43% of mobile phone owners between 18 to 24 years old on Android smartphones, compared with 31% on the iPhone. Android was also more popular among those ages 25 to 54, though the difference began to narrow progressively among each older age group.

The introduction of marquee Android models from manufacturers like Samsung and HTC—along with Android phones’ typically cheaper price point—has likely encouraged younger uptake, as well uptake among other demographics.

But among the wealthiest consumers, the iPhone is still No. 1. Two out of five mobile phone owners with incomes of $75,000 or more owned an iPhone. And similarly, among those with college educations or higher, iPhone ownership reached 38% penetration, compared with 29% for Android.

The smartphone audience in the US has already passed the tipping point, with more mobile users on smartphones than not, according to eMarketer estimates. Pew estimated even higher smartphone penetration, at 55% of mobile owners in October 2012.

As uptake and usage of smart mobile devices rises—on tablets as well as smartphones—mobile will continue siphoning ad dollars from the desktop computer, putting even more pressure on Apple and Google to compete vigorously for mobile users.


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