Android, Smartphones Invading U.S. With A Vengeance: Nielsen

Smartphones will beat plain feature phones in the U.S. market by next year, and Android handsets are the fastest-growing among them, according to Nielsen.

The company this week said in its blog that phones that allow users to access the web and email, run thousands of apps, and share text and picture messages made up 25 percent of the U.S. mobile market in the second quarter of 2010, up from 16 percent the same quarter a year earlier. Smart phones’ trajectory, Nielsen predicts, means they will overtake feature phones in the United States by the end of 2011.

Meanwhile, the Android operating system has shown the most significant expansion in market share among current subscribers, according to Nielsen’s data. In the past six months alone, the Google OS grew to 27 percent, from 6 percent, of newly-acquired smartphones–thanks I’m sure to the Motorola Droid, HTC Incredible, and HTC EVO. In the same period, the iPhone’s share of new smartphones declined to 23 percent, from 34 percent–though the iPhone still makes up 28 percent of U.S. smartphone subscribers, compared to Android’s 13 percent.

What’s more, iPhone fanboys remain loyal as ever. Of current iPhone owners, 89 percent want their next mobile to also be an Apple phone, and only 6 percent of them are looking at Androids. And Apple entices current Android owners too, with a fifth of them considering switching to an iPhone, though 71 percent plan to stick with Android. (Poor BlackBerry: Only 42 percent of current owners plan to stick with Research In Motion’s phones, while 21 percent are eyeing Android and 21 percent, the iPhone. Of course, this survey came out before the BlackBerry Torch announcement, which I think will enhance RIM loyalty.)

Pair the recent Nielsen data with the Canalys report that Justin wrote about this week, and it’s clear that Android’s growth is unstoppable. iPhone apps will remain important, but perhaps it’s time for developers and marketers to make Android apps their No. 1 priority.