It seemed like the industry had hit an important tipping point yesterday when a study from the NPD Group said U.S. Android sales had outpaced the iPhone in the first quarter. Of course, Apple had something to say about this data and how it is being interpreted.
“This is a very limited report on 150,000 U.S. consumers responding to an online survey and does not account for the more than 85 million iPhone and iPod Touch customers worldwide,” Apple spokeswoman Natalie Harrison told Reuters. “We had a record quarter with iPhone sales growing by 131% and with our new iPhone OS 4.0 software coming this summer, we see no signs of the competition catching up any time soon.”
I can’t really say much about the methodology because NPD is a fairly well-respected firm with solid numbers but Apple has a point about the iPod Touch. This is its secret weapon in the smartphone wars because it greatly extends the iPhone OS base and makes it a more compelling platform for developers. I don’t see an Android or webOS personal media player ever taking off in the same way the iPod line has. The Zune HD is a darn fine product but it has barely managed to make a dent. Apple could also potentially throw in the iPad in the mix, as it runs the same OS and has sold more than a million units.
Apple also said the NPD numbers don’t paint a clear picture of the smartphone market because it’s only based on the U.S. market. Other numbers indicate that Apple has the third-largest smartphone share worldwide, behind Nokia and Research In Motion. Apple’s recent quarterly earnings show the Asian markets, in particular, will be a major growth market for its touchscreen handset.
With that being said, let’s hope that Apple is just blustering for the public’s sake and doesn’t truly believe the competition isn’t catching up. I have news for you Steve Jobs: there are handsets out there that are just as good, if not better than the iPhone (some even look better than next-gen iPhone). I’m talking about handsets like the EVO 4G, Droid Incredible and some of Dell’s upcoming smartphones are downright lust-worthy.