Is that a smartphone in your pocket?…

Carrie Sylvester
Jun 12, 2013

There is no doubt that American’s love their mobile phones – and our latest love affair is with the smartphone. According to the 2013 InfoTrends U.S. Mobile Imaging Study, 94% of consumers report using a mobile phone of some kind, and nearly 59% are using a smartphone. It’s hard to miss the slew of TV commercials that promote the latest and greatest smartphones. Some commercials, like the recent iPhone campaign say that more photos are taken and more music is listened to on an iPhone than any other device. Windows Phone has a funny commercial that makes fun of Android & iPhone users as they brawl with each other about which is better while the Windows users calmly stand by and shoot photos/video of the brawling group. All joking aside, which operating system is really winning over the hearts of U.S. consumers?

The Survey Says….

InfoTrends’ annual Mobile Imaging survey is aimed at finding out what type of mobile phones people are using and how they use them. Smartphone users were asked what operating system was running on their handset. The results in order of popularity were Android (51%), iOS (34%), Blackberry (6%) and Windows (4%). Some people might be surprised that Apple’s iOS isn’t #1 but it is no surprise to the large number of Android users. Android to be fair has a significant number of models available through various manufacturers – Motorola, Samsung, HTC, and Pantech just to name a few. And the iPhone, while there are five iterations of the handset, there is just ONE iPhone made by Apple.

Figure 1: Smartphone Operating System 2011-2013

It is interesting to see how the two biggest OS players, Apple and Google, have seen adoption increase through the years. Yet Blackberry and Windows have actually shown marked decreases in reported ownership. As seen in the Figure above, Android jumped from 29% in 2011 to 51% in 2013. Although Blackberry captured the #3 spot, it showed the largest decline going from 26% in 2011 to just 6% in 2013. Windows is just a little behind Blackberry, but it too showed a decrease in reported use in the same three year period.

So what…..?

In this ultra-competitive market it is hard to say if there will always be room for so many players. Apple, Android phone manufacturers, and app developers are doing a great job of addressing the consumers’ appetites for cool smartphones with apps that are meant for work and entertainment and include cameras that rival traditional point & shoots. Blackberry in its heyday was known by its users as the “Crackberry” because people were addicted to their handsets. But it’s rare to see someone on a Blackberry today, which is emphasized by only 6% saying they are using a Blackberry phone in the 2013 study. And the Windows OS although it has had some impressive handsets come to market from manufacturers including Nokia, HTC, and Samsung, the platform doesn’t come close to approaching the number of handsets produced for the Android OS.

Nokia has been the biggest supporter of Windows Phone to date, but nothing that has made huge dent in Android’s or iOS’ user share. Nokia seems to be hinging much of its Windows line-up to promote the camera features, especially the inclusion of its PureView technology. For those that are unfamiliar with it, Nokia’s PureView technology allows the sensor to over sample pixels, which in lay-terms means it combines many pixels into one “super pixel.” The first Nokia Windows phone to feature this technology is the Lumia 928 which includes a maximum resolution of 8.7 megapixels.

It will be interesting to see how the race shakes out in years to come. It is likely that Android and iOS will continue to be the top operating systems for the next few years. But who will take the number 3 spot next year? Will it be Blackberry again? Will Windows unseat Blackberry and edge its way towards giving Apple a run for its money? Blackberry and Windows will need handsets to be introduced that have compelling features (a good camera being top on the priority list), an easy to use user interface, and the right balance of size and reasonable price if they are to fight it out for the #3 spot next year.

To learn more about the latest InfoTrends Mobile Imaging End User analysis and insights, contact Matt O’Keefe with questions.

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