Is Apple Closing in on Google in America?

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When it comes to the tech industry, especially in the world of smartphones, it is easy to put Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) in the same thought -- see what we mean here. These two companies are fighting it out for the top spot in many markets, and there is no reason to believe that this is going to change anytime soon.


Kantar Worldpanel ComTech recently took a closer look at how Apple and Google are competing with one another on U.S. soil. More specifically, its latest study focused on the smartphone market.

Right now, Apple iOS and Google Android are the two top operating systems in the smartphone market. While there are others hoping to close the gap as the months go by, these two are as good as it gets.

iOS vs. Android

Here is a brief excerpt from the study, showing that Apple is closing the gap on its number one competitor in the United States:

“While smartphone sales overall have remained relatively stable in the 3 months ending May 2013, compared to the same period last year, iOS has grown, with a 3.5% increase during that time.

Consequently, with Android remaining unchanged (+0.1%) to date this year, the gap between the two leading operating systems has decreased, according to data released today by Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.”

This shows that Apple iOS is growing while Google Android is standing pat, for the most part. If this trend continues over the next year, we can expect the race to tighten up even further. Here is more from the same study, talking about how much market share each company has at the present time:

“Through the 3 month period ending May 2013, Android continues to lead smartphone sales at 52%. Close behind is iOS with 41.9% of sales. Windows remains in third with 4.6% of sales, up 0.9% versus the same period last year.”

While Apple still has a little way to go if it plans on chasing down Google from behind, its most recent leap helped close the gap. Right now, Apple is about 10 percentage points behind Google and its Android operating system. For the time being, these two companies are going to be talked about as the best of the best in terms of mobile operating systems. It is Apple vs. Google, but what about the carriers?

The carriers

According to Kantar’s studies, which also broke down smartphone sales by U.S. carriers, Verizon holds 34.6% of the market; AT&T holds 29%, while Sprint and T-Mobile US (NYSE: TMUS) account for 12.7% and 10.1%, respectively. Focusing on the carrier in fourth position, T-Mobile, Kantar’s own Dominic Sunnebo explained “the highly anticipated release of the iPhone on T-Mobile has benefited iOS in the latest 3 month period, though it has not yet impacted T-Mobile’s share in the market.”

As one would reasonably expect, the study also showed that T-Mobile’s number one selling smartphone was Apple’s iPhone, and it’s important to remember that the device didn’t go on sale until April. Kantar hypothesizes that “a full quarter’s worth of purchasing next month may impact T-Mobile’s overall sales share” for the better. It remains to be seen if it can overtake Sprint, but it wouldn’t be a bad bet to make.

Final thoughts

From a practical standpoint, Apple’s T-Mobile rollout will likely end up helping the device-maker more than it will help the carrier, but both companies should continue to benefit as more data comes in. As Sunnebo put it, “iOS’ strength on T-Mobile appears to be the ability to attract first time smartphone buyers, upgrading from a featurephone.”

In other words, less market saturation is always a good theme that investors want in their corner, and it looks like Apple has it with T-Mobile, as “53% had previously owned a featurephone, well above the market average of 45% of iOS owners who previously owned a featurephone,” says Sunnebo.

Either way, we’ll be watching these companies closely and you should too.

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This article is written by Chris Bibey and edited by Jake Mann. Insider Monkey's Editor-in-Chief is Meena Krishnamsetty. Meena has long positions in Apple, Google, and AT&T. The Motley Fool recommends Apple and Google. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Google. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. Is this post wrong? Click here. Think you can do better? Join us and write your own!

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