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iPhone 4S inches Apple closer to Android in top market share

Though Android led iOS in smartphones for all 2011, the iPhone 4S boosted Apple's share of the market to 43 percent late last year, closing in on Android's 46 percent, says NPD.


Android is still beating Apple in the smartphone wars, but the iPhone 4S has narrowed the gap between the two rivals, according to NPD data released yesterday at CES.

Analyzing last year's smartphone market, NPD found that iOS's share surged to 43 percent in October and November from just 26 percent in the third quarter, thanks largely to demand for the iPhone 4S. Though Google's mobile OS maintained its lead, its share dropped in October and November to 47 percent from 60 percent in the previous quarter.

With Apple and Android vying for the top spot, other smartphone players have lagged far behind, "turning the OS battle into a two-horse race," according to NPD.

In third place was RIM's OS, which steadily dropped market share over the past 12 months, falling from 19 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010 to just 6 percent in October and November of last year. Microsoft's Windows Mobile and Windows Phone 7 also struggled, each grabbing around 1 percent of the market toward the end of the year.

Microsoft is counting on Nokia to give Windows Phone a much-needed shot in the arm. The Finnish phone maker unveiled its new Lumia 900 at CES yesterday. Slated for AT&T, the Lumia 900 is Nokia's first 4G LTE device to sport the Windows Phone OS.

Some analysts believe Windows Phone could climb its way to third place in the global smartphone arena ahead of RIM, helping both Microsoft and Nokia. Credit Suisse analyst Kulbinder Garcha sees Windows Phone as the key to reviving Nokia's sluggish sales and falling market share. But both companies face an uphill battle in a landscape currently sewn up by iOS and Android.

Apple itself continued to dominate mobile phone sales in October and November, according to NPD, with the iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, and iPhone 3GS taking home the top three spots.

Samsung, which has been outperforming Apple in the handset market, found 3 of its smartphones among the top 10. HTC and Motorola carved out healthy niches, while LG's Revere was the only non-smartphone to ease onto the list.

The holidays were also bountiful for Apple and Android. Christmas Day activations for both platforms combined a hit record high of 6.8 million, according to mobile analytics firm Flurry. And the final week of the year saw 1.2 billion apps downloaded between iOS and Android users.