Is Apple Taking a Bite Out of Google?

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Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android has dominated the U.S. smartphone market for years.  In the fourth quarter of 2010, the Android captured 53 percent of the market share, while Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS and Research in Motion’s (NASDAQ:RIMM) Blackberry both captured about 19 percent of market share.  However, Apple’s new iPhone 4S is taking a large bite out of Google’s market share.

According to a new report from NPD Group, Apple’s U.S. smartphone market share surged from 26 percent in the third quarter of 2011 to 43 percent by October and November.  Meanwhile, Google’s market share declined from 60 percent to 47 percent in the same time period.  NPD says the smartphone market has essentially become a “a two-horse race.”  RIM’s market share fell to only 6 percent, leaving it near the bottom with Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT).  NPD Group is the leading provider of reliable and comprehensive consumer and retail information for a wide range of industries.

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The smartphone market continues to grow.  In October and November 2011, two out of every three handsets sold were smartphones.  This represents a 50 percent increase from the fourth quarter of 2010.  Out of the top ten phone models, Apple holds the top three spots with its iPhone 4S, iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS.  Nine of the top ten phone models are smartphones.  Verizon (NYSE:VZ) recently said it sold a record 4.2 million iPhones in the previous quarter, while AT&T (NYSE:T) said it sold around 6 million smartphones in October and November with strong demand for the iPhone.

After having trouble climbing back above $400 in late 2011, shares of Apple have gained almost 5 percent year-to-date.  On Monday, shares hit a new all-time high of $427.75 as Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) raised its price target on the tech giant to $550 per share.

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To contact the reporter on this story: Eric McWhinnie at staff.writers@wallstcheatsheet.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Damien Hoffman at editors@wallstcheatsheet.com

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