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Nielsen: Desire for iPhone slips as Android gains

Just last year, more people wanted an iPhone over any other smartphone. But now, consumers are more interested in Android-based handsets, a new study finds.

Android-based devices are becoming more desired by U.S. consumers.
Android-based devices are becoming more desired by U.S. consumers.
The Nielsen Company

Last year, the iPhone was easily the most desired smartphone on the market. But during the first quarter of 2011, that wasn't necessarily the case, a new study from Nielsen has found.

According to the research firm, 31 percent of U.S. mobile consumers plan on buying an Android-based smartphone in the next year. Nielsen found that 30 percent of respondents plan to get their hands on an iPhone in the next 12 months. RIM's BlackBerry smartphones and Windows Phone 7-based devices were desired by 11 percent and 6 percent of the respondents, respectively. Surprisingly, 20 percent of those surveyed are still unsure of which smartphone they want to buy.

Between July and September of last year, buying preferences were much different. At the time, Nielsen discovered that the iPhone was the most desired smartphone, garnering interest from 33 percent of respondents. At the time, 26 percent of consumers planned on getting their hands on an Android-based device. RIM's BlackBerry smartphones and Windows Phone 7-based devices caught the eye of 13 percent and 7 percent of respondents, respectively.

Exactly why the market shifted over the past several months is unknown. However, if previous studies are one's guide, it's unlikely that iPhone lovers are jumping to Android's side and vice versa.

In January, mobile analytics provider Zokem found that iPhone owners are the most loyal to their smartphone brand. In fact, 85 percent of current iPhone owners said they would buy another Apple smartphone the next time around. The firm found that 89 percent of those who owned an Android-based device would buy another for their next phone, though they all didn't necessarily want to stick with the same vendor.

But it goes beyond loyalty. A study from Business Insider last week, revealed that just 31.2 percent of Android users would potentially buy an iPhone if the device "worked better with non-iPhone apps and products." Moreover, a whopping 55.7 percent of respondents said that nothing could make them buy an iPhone for one key reason: they "hate Apple."

Away from buying preferences, Nielsen also examined what devices respondents had purchased in the last six months. The research firm found that 50 percent of folks bought an Android-based device, while 25 percent of respondents opted for the iPhone. RIM's BlackBerry devices scored the third position with 15 percent market share over the last six months.

Through March 2011, Nielsen found that Android had 37 percent market share in the U.S., followed by Apple's iOS, which scored 27 percent share. RIM's BlackBerry operating system rounded out the top three with 22 percent of the market. Windows Mobile and Windows Phone 7 has just 10 percent share.