December 13, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka
NPD Group has joined the chorus of research firms stating the obvious: Android leads the pack in the smartphone OS wars. Though to be fair, it’s not much of a war in the U.S. anymore. Android grew to a 53 percent market share between January and October 2011. It’s closest competition, Apple’s iOS, grew to 29 percent. So it’s really more of a smartphone OS battle at the moment.
This is nothing new, however. We’ve seen RIM consistently lose market share – down from 44 percent in 2009 to 10 percent in 2011 – and Palm and Microsoft have failed to gain any traction. Android’s clearly dominating thanks to its range of form factors, carrier options, and manufacture contributions.
However, something interesting related to this report is a comment that Android phones don’t appear to last with consumers as long as Apple or RIM. In today’s announcement, NPD noted that these figures are from its Smartphone Track report. I don’t remember reading one in a while (or ever?) so I followed the link and saw this chart showing the frequency of replacements. While Apple and RIM both held strong at 22 months, almost the full length of a cell phone contract, Motorola phones lasted only 17 months before being replaced. Samsung had a paltry 16 months.
Is that because Android users skewer to the early adopter sect that’s more likely to upgrade sooner? Or perhaps the phone quality simply doesn’t hold up as long as the iPhone or BlackBerry devices? I’d guess it’s more of the latter because of Samsung and Motorola’s poor record of updating their devices, leading frustrated users to buy a new phone as time goes on. Whatever the reason, Android manufacturers need to get into the habit of keeping people satisfied longer. At the moment, it looks like consumers are replacing those phones with other Android phones, but that may not always be the case.