According to the latest data by research firm NPD, Apple’s iPhone 4 and two year old iPhone 3GS continued to lead US smartphone sales in the third quarter of 2011. The data, based on NPD’s Mobile Phone Track and Smartphone Track services, shows declining smartphone prices reaching an average selling point of $135 in Q3, although “consumers originally considered paying more”. The top five phones in Q3 according to NPD:
- 1 - Apple iPhone 4
- 2 - Apple iPhone 3GS
- 3 - HTC EVO 4G
- 4 - Motorola Droid 3
- 5 - Samsung Intensity II
Despite their age and typical slowdown in popularity and the rise of Google’s Android operating system in smartphone market share, the iPhone 4 and 3GS still lead sales in the United States. In October, Apple announced the iPhone 4S, which went on sale on October 14th in seven countries and reported over 4 million sales in the first weekend of availability. US carriers AT&T and Sprint said they were very pleased with the initial results of iPhone 4S pre-orders, which isn’t included in NPD data for Q3, but Apple didn’t provide specific US numbers for iPhone 4S sales. Alongside the iPhone 4S, however, Apple also introduced a new 8 GB iPhone 4 model, sold at $99 on a two-year contract, and kept the iPhone 3GS around for free with a carrier contract. At Apple’s Q4 2011, CEO Tim Cook said about the free iPhone 3GS:
We did it because we want the iPhone more accessible to a broader market and so not only did we take the 3GS to free in a postpaid plan, but we also lowered the price of the iPhone 4….we did both of those because as we looked at it, these are still fantastic products and we think we can do reasonably well in selling these in the postpaid market. It also has the advantage of having a lower price in the prepaid market…we did it for both the prepaid and postpaid markets, they are both very important to us. It has been our thinking for a while to do that.
The iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS run the latest version of iOS, but Apple made a major software feature of iOS 5, the voice-based assistant Siri, exclusive to the iPhone 4S. With a lower price point, it’s likely the iPhone 4 and 3GS will continue to be an important source of revenue from customers willing to get an iPhone, but not necessarily the (more expensive) new model.