Within three years, nearly seven out of 10 smartphone owners in the United States could have an iPhone. This would put the number of iPhones in the country at 180 million by 2017, according to industry analyst Horace Dediu.

Under the headline, “How many Americans will be using an iPhone when the US smartphone market saturates,” Dediu notes that sales of Apple’s handset “follows the same pattern as the (smartphone) market” overall. In fact, they are nearly parallel. This suggests “consumers are absorbing the product in (a) similar way to how they are absorbing the technology.”

This is important, especially when one looks at how other smartphone manufacturers have faired in recent years.

As the industry as a whole has grown, Microsoft, for example, has seen its mobile sales remain mostly flat. By contrast, BlackBerry’s sales have plummeted in recent years.

As Dediu notes:

Incidentally, the reason other platforms do not follow this pattern is that they are not communicating value with the consumer but with manufacturers or distributors of the product. These alternative communications could create faster or slower growth than the overall market as they are not subject to the same large population imitation/learning models.

Interestingly enough, Dediu does not mention Android in his survey. If one looks at his chart, however, it’s clear that Google’s mobile platform has also been closely tracking market growth as a whole. Plus, Android’s market penetration is also currently higher than that for iOS. In August, Dediu said that net use for Android in the U.S. has declined. That type of conclusion is not noted in the analyst’s most recent survey.

The bottom line? Barring a significant shift, iOS and Android will continue to lead the smartphone market for many years to come in the U.S. Whether Apple’s penetration rate hits 68 percent as Dediu has suggested, remains to be seen.