May 15, 2014, 5:06 PM

Android pulls away from Apple in the smartphone subscriber race

Although Apple had been encroaching on the Google operating system last year, Android in Q1 had a modest gain in its percentage of smartphone subscribers to 52.2% from 51.5% in Q4 2013. But retailers need not shift their mobile strategies yet, a comScore executive says.

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After a year of steady gains on Google Inc.’s Android mobile operating system, Apple Inc. has lost a sliver of its U.S. smartphone market share, according to new data from web measurement firm comScore Inc., which surveys U.S. smartphone subscribers aged 13 and up.

In the first three months of 2014, Apple accounted for 41.4% of U.S. consumers’ smartphone, down from 41.8% in the last three months of 2013. Android, meanwhile, grew its percentage of smartphone subscribers in Q1 to 52.2% from 51.5% in Q4 2013. As for the rest: Blackberry accounted for 2.7%, down from 3.4% in Q4 2013; Microsoft 3.3%, up from 3.1% in Q4; and Symbian 0.2%, flat with the end of 2013.

“I don't see this as a significant shift in the market just yet. Apple has been gaining share pretty consistently over the past year and this may just be a temporary reversal before the next upgrade cycle for iPhones,” says Andrew Lipsman, vice president of marketing and insights at comScore. “Retailers should not make a marked shift in strategy based on these numbers; it's just something to keep an eye on through the back half of the year.”

ComScore also ranks the top mobile apps among U.S. consumers, based on their share of mobile traffic. For the first quarter, Facebook’s app was by far the most popular—as it has been for a long time, according to Lipsman—reaching 75.0% of the nation’s Apple and Android smartphone subscriber base aged 18 and up.

“Facebook should continue to be a top priority from a mobile advertising perspective; not only is it the No. 1 app by audience, but it also accounts for 20% of all time spent on mobile,” Lipsman says. “This is the best way to reach audiences at scale on mobile is via Facebook.”

The other most-popular apps in Q1, with the percentage of U.S. smartphone subscribers accessing them in the quarter, were:

  • Google Play, 51.8%
  • Google Search, 49.0%
  • Google Inc.’s YouTube, 48.8%
  • Pandora Radio, 45.2%
  • Google Maps, 42.5%
  • Google Inc.’s Gmail, 42.5%
  • Yahoo Stocks, 30.5%
  • Facebook’s Instagram, 28.1%
  • Yahoo Weather, 27.6%
  • Facebook Messenger, 25.3%
  • Apple Maps, 24.8%
  • iTunes Radio/iCloud, 23.6%
  • Twitter, 21.9%
  • Google Plus, 21.3%
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