Verizon iPhone Caused Android Market Share Drop, Analyst Says

The Verizon iPhone may have had tepid sales, but they were supposedly enough to eat into Android's market share during the first quarter of this year.

According to statistics from analyst firm Needham & Co., Apple's market share jumped from 17.2 percent to 29.5 percent in the first quarter of 2011. Meanwhile, Android's share fell from 52.4 percent to 49.5 percent--the first time since the second quarter of 2009 that Android lost market share.

Android's Losses Just Beginning?

In a note to his clients, Needham & Co. analyst Charlie Wolf said that the iPhone 5 launch was purposely delayed as to not upset Verizon iPhone buyers. He also seemed to suggest that the real surge is yet to come, and many more consumers will migrate to the Verizon iPhone once the newest model is introduced.

"In our opinion, this is just the beginning of Android's share loss in the U.S.," Wolf wrote.

That's quite a strong statement considering the meteoric growth that Google's mobile platform has experienced over much of the past two years. It also lends credence to the argument that Apple's restrictive distribution model hurt the iPhone's growth overall.

Wolf Might Not Be Crying Wolf After All

Consider the fact that Apple has finally acquiesced and started selling an unlocked version of the device here in the US. Also consider the suddenly louder rumors that the device may appear on T-Mobile and Sprint. It seems like Cupertino may have realized that the walled garden that is the iPhone needs to be opened just a little bit in order to keep growing the market.

Only then will Apple have any chance of making up lost ground against Android. Otherwise, this uptick in market share will be temporary and Android will continue to remain king--at least, when it comes to smartphones.

For more tech news and commentary, follow Ed on Twitter at @edoswald and on Facebook.

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

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