Google's Android mobile OS.
Photograph by Bloomberg via Getty Images
By Don Reisinger
April 21, 2016

Apple and Google are dominating the U.S. mobile market, even more than they did before.

During the first quarter, Android and iOS combined for 97% of all mobile phone activations in the U.S., according to Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP). That was up from 95% during the same period last year.

Android was the most popular operating system during the first three months of 2016, accounting for 57% of all activations, the study said. Meanwhile, Apple’s iOS accounted for 40% of all activations during that period, leaving Microsoft’s Windows and “basic” devices that aren’t running sophisticated operating systems to pick up the scraps.

Google (GOOGL) and Apple (AAPL) have long ruled the U.S. phone market. However, they achieve their success in different ways. Apple only sells iPhones and doesn’t allow other companies to use its operating system.

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Google, however, offers its Android platform to third-party vendors that build their own products. Android activations during the first quarter were therefore split among several different companies. While Google has a slew of Android vendor partners, and just a few, including Samsung and China-based Huawei, have attracted the majority of its customers.

The different business models means Google is nowhere to be found when CIRP evaluates activations by device maker. On that front, Apple was the clear leader, attracting 40% of all activations during the first quarter, according to CIRP. It was closely followed by Samsung’s 37% market share. LG, Motorola, and HTC followed, although their share was substantially less and the exact figures were not shared in the report.

Except for Apple and Samsung, CIRP says that all other smartphone makers saw their market share slip year-over-year compared to March 2015.

“Apple and Samsung continued to dominate the U.S. mobile phone market,” CIRP partner and co-founder Mike Levin said in a statement.

Samsung was able to grow its market share on the “strength of the Galaxy S7 launch,” according to Levin. Apple was lifted by strong performance by its larger models including the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s.

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However, Apple also padded its market lead by stealing former Android users.

“As a percentage of customers, Apple attracted more Android users than before, in large part because Apple had already upgraded so much of its own U.S. installed base after the launch of the iPhone 6 models in September 2014,” Josh Lowitz, partner and CIRP co-founder said in a statement.

Lowitz didn’t say how many converts Apple was able to attract.

The CIRP data is based on a survey the company conducted in the U.S. between April 1 and April 14. The data includes activations of both new and used phones.

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