Android in the Fast Lane

Carl Weinschenk

Carl Weinschenk spoke with Ross Rubin, executive director of industry analysis for NPD Group. On Nov. 1, NPD updated its Mobile Phone Track, which follows cell phone and smartphone purchases in the consumer sector. Rubin said that the overlap between the consumer and enterprise sector means that the results have significance for IT departments and planners. Android was the big winner in the third quarter. RIM's BlackBerry, Rubin said, has slipped to third place. Overall, the report is more evidence that these are good days for smartphones.


"In terms of operating systems that achieve critical developer support, it likely is going to be a two- or three-horse race. [But] it is a much larger market than we see in the PCs, and carriers have some interest in diversification."

Ross Rubin
NPD Group

Weinschenk: What does the study look at?

Rubin: NPD has a product called Mobile Phone Track, which asks consumers which handsets they purchased in the last 30 days. It looks at actual acquisitions by consumers, not shipments, which a number of other research firms track. It does not include sales to enterprises. This is all phones in the retail channel. We share the results monthly with clients and share some quarterly results with the media. We found a number of things. The iPhone 4 was the best-selling smartphone in the third quarter. Android has dramatically grown its share of the market. It is up 10 to 11 points to 44 percent. BlackBerry, which had been the dominant operating system for some time, now slipped to third place.


Weinschenk: One point of definitions: You refer to all the other top phones as smartphones, but the LG Cosmos as a "messaging phone." What exactly is that?

Rubin: It's an advanced input device that is not a smartphone. We define it as a handset with a touch screen or physical keyboard but without a smartphone operating system.


Weinschenk: Does this study have implications for the enterprise market?

Rubin: Sure. On some level, it reflects what we are seeing in the overall market [including the enterprise]. I think our findings are generally in line with other research in terms of the momentum of various operating systems. We feel that our research is more of a leading indicator of what is happening in other segments. In terms of the developer momentum, in terms of the assortment being offered by carriers, it has relevance [to the enterprise]. It is unlikely that Verizon, for example, would have moved forward with a handset such as the Droid Pro, which is aimed at providing more manageability and better IT control, unless it really saw Android resonating in the market and a lot coming in [to the business] through consumer acquisitions. IT managers want a lot of those capabilities, but with more control.

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