Data Showing Android Pushing Past Apple Does Not Include iPhone 4

There is no question that Android’s share of the smartphone market is growing by leaps and bounds. Earlier today, Nielsen came out with some more evidence that Android keeps rising. It published some very provocative numbers today suggesting that Android’s share of new smartphone subscribers surged past new iPhone subscribers in the U.S. during the second quarter, commanding 27 percent of recent smartphone purchases compared to 23 percent for the iPhone.

These figures represent new smartphone purchases over the preceding 6 months.  In terms of total smartphone subscribers in the U.S., the iPhone still has more than twice as many as Android, with 28 percent versus 13 percent.  But that number was flat for iPhone from the first quarter, while Android’s share rose from 9 percent.  (Blackberry is still bigger than both with 35 percent share of total subscribers, and 33 percent of recent subscribers).

The relative gains of Android compared to iPhone could very well signal a tipping point for Android.  Perhaps the weight of all 20+ Android phones and multiple carriers is finally collectively beating the iPhone, and there will be no looking back.  Or maybe the fight is not yet over.

According to this data, new Android subscribers passed iPhone subscribers in the second quarter, which ended on June 30.  The new iPhone 4 was announced on June 7, but not available until June 24th.

In other words, this data only includes one week of iPhone 4 sales. The flat market share line may very well be indicating nothing more than the end of the iPhone 3Gs product lifecycle. Many people who wanted a new iPhone delayed their purchase in anticipation of the iPhone 4. Yes, the iPhone 4 has some antenna issues, but those do not seem to be affecting sales.

Can Android keep on taking market share among new smartphone buyers, or will the iPhone bounce back next quarter with the full force of iPhone 4 sales behind it? Like they say, one data point does not make a trend.