Apple and Samsung continue to grab smartphone sales from the rest of the industry.
Collectively, the two companies watched their U.S. sales increase by 43 percent from the second quarter of 2011 to the same quarter of 2012, says a new report from NPD Group. Over the same time, combined sales for other companies, such as HTC, Motorola, and LG, fell by 16 percent.
For the quarter, Apple carved out 31 percent of the smartphone market, while Samsung captured 24 percent. That left HTC with 15 percent, Motorola with 12 percent, and LG with just 6 percent.
"By concentrating on their best, flagship devices, while at the same time supplementing their volumes with lower priced alternatives, both Apple and Samsung are extending their lead over the other smartphone makers," NPD analyst Stephen Baker said in a statement. "To be a share leader means participating in all segments of the market, in order to take advantage of pre-paid and other growth opportunities, while also providing the hero devices that drive customers to your brand."
Overall, the smartphone industry received a big boost from sales of prepaid phones. NPD noted.
Total smartphone unit sales inched up 9 percent last quarter from the year-ago quarter. Year-over-year sales of postpaid phones (that is, those for which users pay monthly) were flat, but sales of prepaid smartphones surged 91 percent from a year ago.
"Pre-paid smartphones are no longer just cheap, also-ran options, focused on older and less capable phones," Baker said. "As the smartphone market matures, and as growth slows, carriers have been smart to aggressively market some of their best current smartphones on a pre-paid basis to a new set of customers, in order to keep sales humming along."
Smartphones are also reaching lower-income subscribers.
Last quarter, 33 percent of people with household incomes less than $35,000 picked up a smartphone, up from 24 percent in the second quarter of 2011. And 71 percent of those with the same household incomes were prepaid smartphone buyers, a 12 percentage point gain over last year.