A new report that shows a first-ever decline in U.S. smartphone sales may be an indication of buyers waiting for a better phone — though it could be the harkening of "ominous" times for Android.
Morgan Keegan tech analyst Tavis McCourt released a report showing a drop in smartphone sales in the third quarter of this year, which would be a first for a market that's only known one direction for its entire existence, at least in the U.S.: up.
In the report, which was excerpted on CNNMoney, McCourt analyzed data from Verizon and AT&T and found decreases in both Android and iPhone sales, with a more dramatic dip in the iPhone camp, which he explained:
Obviously, a big part of this was the impact of the iPhone 4S being delayed until Q4, but there are also some ominous signs for Android vendors in these results given that there were a number of Android launches in the quarter at AT&T and Verizon, and yet Android sales likely declined sequentially and had only modest growth Y/Y.
McCourt sees this as a sign of a continued decline in Android sales, and that the hold on buying Android can also be interpreted as anticipation for the next iPhone. "We believe slowdown in Android/BlackBerry/[Windows Phone] sales at AT&T/Verizon likely indicates a reasonable number of customers choosing not to upgrade in Q3, but rather waiting to switch to the iPhone in Q4," he wrote. "The strong initial sales figures for iPhone 4S would seem to back up this assumption."
But we think folks were not only waiting for the next iteration of the iPhone, but for the next gen of Android phones, too — the superphones. For instance, if you love the Samsung Galaxy S II, maybe you'd rather wait for the Galaxy Nexus. Or if you waited for the delayed Motorola Droid Bionic, you're best be now is to wait even longer for the Droid RAZR instead. That doesn't mean you're giving up on Android, just delaying the inevitable purchase.
After all, with more than 100 models, Android phones as a collective entity are a worldwide sales powerhouse, even as the iPhone is the best-selling individual phone. Android's market share continues to grow, a lot, year over year, with Gartner reporting it at 43 percent, compared to 17 percent a year earlier. Apple's share grew, too, but only to 18 percent, from 14 percent.
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