July 25, 2012 at 7:25 PM ET
New numbers from ComScore show that users of feature phones are upgrading to smartphones at record rates, and are overwhelmingly choosing Android for their new platform.
In April, 2011, just over 60 percent of feature phone users chose to stay with a feature phone when they got a new one. In April of this year, that number is down to 50 percent; meanwhile, the proportion of users choosing to upgrade to smartphones has gone from 38% percent to 47.5 percent in the same period. It's the tipping point for smartphone adoption: it's very likely that within a few months, smartphone upgraders will outnumber feature phone keepers.
Android is the platform of choice for these new users, according to ComScore's numbers: 61.5 percent of new smartphone users in April chose Android, while a significant but still much smaller 25.2 percent picked up an iPhone. Meanwhile, 7.1 percent went with Microsoft and just 4.8 percent with BlackBerry.
This is likely due to the fact that Android phones are present on every carrier, often for free. Many people are simply looking to get GPS and email on their phones, but are not particularly interested in the premium features of more expensive Android models or the iPhone 4S. A cheap Android-based phone may not excite enthusiasts who keep up with the latest hardware, but as a free complement to a new carrier contract, it appears to be very compelling to customers.
The study comes on the heels of another by Nielsen concluding that two-thirds of all phones bought in the U.S. are smartphones. Now it appears that the remaining third, which was the subject of the ComScore's research, is going to be shrinking even faster than before.
Devin Coldewey is acontributing writer for NBC News. His personal website iscoldewey.cc.