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Samsung is catching up to the iPhone, by the numbers

Samsung is catching up to the iPhone, by the numbers

February 10, 2016

Apple might still be in the lead, holding 40 percent of the smartphone market, but its competitors are starting to catch up. Looking at the latest United States smartphone market share numbers, research firm Parks Associates shows that 86 percent of U.S. broadband households now own a smartphone, with Apple holding position as the dominant manufacturer while competitor Samsung begins to catch up.

The South Korean smartphone manufacturer now controls 31 percent of the market, and the next closest rival is LG with 10 percent. Motorola, HTC, and other smartphone manufacturers hold even smaller pieces of the pie.

That’s not to say that iOS is the dominant smartphone operating system. In fact, Android holds more than half of the market when it comes to which operating system is used. Apple just has the lead over individual manufacturers, and that lead is slipping.

Image credit: Parks Associates

Image credit: Parks Associates

The research from Parks Associates also sheds light on how smartphone owners use their devices and how long they wait to upgrade. According to the numbers, 45 percent of all U.S. broadband households wait two years to upgrade their smartphones, and a third of Apple iPhone owners still have a model that is more than two years old. Harry Wang, director of health and mobile product research at Parks Associates, points out that the mobile carriers are trying to change that.

Operators are pulling out all the tricks to encourage phone upgrades. The once-familiar two-year contract, which tied consumers to a two-year phone upgrade cycle, is gradually fading. U.S. carriers started to do away with two-year contracts in 2012, and by the third quarter of 2015, only 51% of mobile consumers had a contract, down from almost 70% at the end 2011.

So how do people use their devices? According to Parks Associates, in several ways.

  • More than 70% of smartphone users now watch short streaming video clips, and more than 40% watch long streaming videos on their device.
  • Almost 40% of smartphone users use the voice recognition function; among iPhone users, more than half have used Siri.

Other advanced smartphone activities include the following:

  • 36% use Wi-Fi calling
  • 35% stream music from the phone to speakers
  • 26% use a payment app for purchases at a retail location
  • 24% stream video from the phone to a second screen (e.g., TV, PC, etc.)

It’s definitely enlightening to see the various technologies iPhone and other smartphone owners have adopted. Samsung’s advance in the numbers might be troubling for some, but I suspect Apple’s announcement of the long-rumored 4-inch “iPhone 5se” will curb the South Korean manufacturer’s impact by at least a small margin.

Featured image credit: Forbes

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