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Verizon iPhone taking a bite out of Verizon’s Android sales

by Phil Hornshaw

Analysis of advertising data on the Verizon network suggests that Android use on the network is declining while iPhone use is rising.

The story comes from Ars Technica, and the data from advertising network Chitika, which keeps an eye on the breakdown between Android and iOS on its platform in order to keep ahead of advertising trends. Here’s a quote from the Ars story:

According to the firm, Verizon's share of the Android market in the US has dropped nearly 10 full percentage points between March and August, while AT&T's share of the Android market has gone up, indicating that more users are using iPhones through Verizon now that the option is available.

Before March of this year, Verizon held about 51.4 percent of the Android market in general, dominating the competition: Sprint was next with 25.3 percent, followed by T-Mobile with 16.8 percent and AT&T with 3.6 percent. After March and the release of the Verizon iPhone 4, however, there was a pretty stark shift: Verizon’s market share fell to 41.8 percent while AT&T’s increased to 8.7 percent by August. They were the only two networks to see a significant change, and they’re the only two networks to offer the iPhone.

Verizon hasn’t change the way it’s handling Android, and neither has anyone else among the other networks. It seems the best variable to explain the change is the availability of the iPhone 4, and according to a survey conducted before the release of the Verizon iPhone, more than half of Verizon customers said they were considering switching to Apple’s phone if it showed up on their network.

So far it’s been a bit hard to gauge just how well the Verizon iPhone has been doing since its release about six months ago, but the latest numbers outside of Chitika’s findings suggest that one in three iPhones in the hands of U.S. consumers today are on the Verizon network. That data comes from analysis firm Localytics, which puts Verizon’s share of the iPhone market at around 32 percent, up from around 20 when it first launched.

One has to wonder just how the iPhone is affecting Verizon’s overall business, and if it is, in fact, cannibalizing Android sales. Verizon offers quite a bit in the way of features on Android that aren’t available with the iPhone, not the least of which is 4G LTE technology, which now covers half the U.S. The iPhone has no 4G technology, so if users really want to be on the cutting edge with Verizon, they’ll be grabbing Android devices.

But given that 4G is a sort of nebulous, inexact term and many people don’t really know whether their phones are 4G or not, that may not be a big selling point. And Chitika isn’t as forgiving of the Verizon share of the iPhone market, either, pegging it at just 23.3 percent, rather than that much more significant one-in-three. Overall, it could mean that Verizon might want to think about ways to support the Android side of its business as well as the iPhone side so that the two are working together to beat back Sprint and AT&T, rather than just gnawing away at one another.