IPhone 4S Highlights Gap Between IOS, Android

The iPhone 4S will debut on AT&T, Sprint and Verizon, heralding larger iOS sales, but Android remains a threat as wireless providers continue to support the platform.

Apple’s long-awaited device will arrive October 14 on Sprint, besides AT&T and Verizon, opening up a third market for the Cupertino, Calif.-based company that may put iPhone sales through the roof.

IPhone 4S sales will likely get a boost once the fifth-generation device debuts on Sprint, much like when Verizon first got the iPhone 4 in February and ended AT&T’s exclusivity. Verizon sold 2 million Apple handsets in the first quarter, tripling profits and winning over nearly 100,000 new customers.

Verizon’s iPhone sales, in addition to AT&T’s, helped keep Apple at the top of the smartphone market this year. As of August, Apple sold 20 million units and commanded as much of the mobile market share, nearly twice its hold from last year.

Apple’s market share could rise even more if it sells 25 million iPhone 4S devices by year’s end, as the Wall Street Journal predicts. Much of that growth may be on Sprint, with many consumers attracted by Sprint’s unlimited data plan, though the carrier may rescind them if traffic becomes too great.

Apple’s next-generation device will still see plenty of competition from Android phones, however, as all U.S. carriers continue to support handsets running Google’s mobile OS. Android rose nearly 45 per cent rise in the global smartphone market, up from around 17 per cent last year.

T-Mobile, for example, is the only carrier without the iPhone 4S for a flagship device, and has chosen the Android-based Samsung Galaxy 2 and HTC Amaze instead as its flagship phones.

Apple is only one manufacturer, but its Android competitors comprise a long list of handset makers, from its biggest rival Samsung to HTC and Motorola, among others, which may account for Android’s reach. Their hardware innovations provide customers with a range of options, compared to Apple’s fixed design.

Android phones are also available for different prices, while Apple’s remains a high-end handset unsuitable for those on a budget. For example, the iPhone 4S costs $200 for the 16-gigabyte version, $300 for double the storage and $400 for 64 gigabytes. The Android OS, however, is thriving on lower-end smartphones and prepaid plans, leaving no room for Apple in this growing market.

The iPhone 4S, then, stands to skyrocket in sales as it arrives on three of four major U.S. carriers, but will nevertheless have to contend with an increasing variety of Android competitors.

This post originally appeared at Mobiledia.

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