Sales of Android handsets surpass iPhone sales during first quarter of 2010; Apple not worried

Earlier this week, NPD released data from a recent survey conducted during the first quarter of 2010 which found that sales of Android handsets surpassed iPhone sales for the first time ever.

Could it be that the iPhone is in trouble? Is it possible that a device experiencing 100+% growth year over year has year has lost some of its luster?

Not really, but that's what recently released data from the NPD group seems to suggest. Earlier this week, NPD released data from a survey conducted during the first quarter of 2010 which found that sales of Android handsets in the US surpassed iPhone sales for the first time ever. Specifically, Android handsets accounted for 28% of all smartphone sales in the first quarter of 2010 while iPhone sales merely accounted for 21%, which puts them in second and third place in the US respectively. Still reigning atop the domestic smartphone market, though, is RIM, whose selection of Blackberrys accounted for 36% of all US based smartphone sales.

Now before you go jumping to conclusions, bear in mind that Apple only has 1 iPhone and that it's only available on 1 carrier. The Android OS, on the other hand, spans a number of different devices capable of running on a variety of cellular networks. So in that regard, it's not really an Apples to Apples comparison (pardon the pun). Also, it's important to note that a number of Blackberry and Android smartphones on Verizon were subject to a "buy one get one" free promotion that works to pump up the number of units pushed out the door, but misrepresents the actual number of units sold.

Naturally, Apple took issue with NPD's report. In a statement issued to Jim Dalrymple of The Loop, Apple spokesperson Natalie Harrison explained:

This is a very limited report on 150,000 US consumers responding to an online survey and does not account for the more than 85 million iPhone and iPod touch customers worldwide. IDC figures show that iPhone has 16.1 percent of the smartphone market and growing, far outselling Android on a worldwide basis. We had a record quarter with iPhone sales growing by 131 percent and with our new iPhone OS 4.0 software coming this summer, we see no signs of the competition catching up anytime soon.

Fair enough, but still, you can't deny that Android is making significant inroads in the smartphone market in the United States - which is all the more reason why Apple will hopefully release a CDMA version of the iPhone for Verizon sometime this summer. As I wrote yesterday, a recently unearthed court document indicates that AT&T is contracted as the lone iPhone carrier in the US until 2012, so we can only hope that Apple was able to somehow change the terms of the original deal.

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Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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