Apple closes gap with Android in May, thanks to T-Mobile

T-Mobile iPhone launch line

Apple may want to thank its newest U.S. carrier partner, T-Mobile USA, for helping narrow the gap between iOS and Google’s leading Android smartphone software. According to a newly-released market survey, Android had 52 percent of the domestic market in May 2013 while Apple scored 41.9 percent, a 3.5 percent gain over the same end of May period in 2012.

The figures are slightly encouraging to Apple, which held 39 percent of the U.S. smartphone market according to another research firm in June. Remarkable about today’s numbers is how the iPhone accounted for more than half of T-Mobile smartphone sales, enticing a higher-than-average percent of feature phone owners to upgrade to the Apple handset…

Kantar Worldpanel said Monday:

While smartphone sales over all have remained relatively stable in the 3 months ending May 2013, compared to the same period last year, iOS has grown, with a 3.5 percent increase during that time.

Through a three-month period that ended in May, “Android continues to lead smartphone sales at 52 percent,” the company added.

Apple’s iOS is second with 41.9 percent of sales in the US. In third, Microsoft registered 4.6 percent of smartphone sales, up just under one percent compared to the same period last year.

Kantar paints a slightly rosier picture for iOS than competitor comScore, which earlier reported Apple held 39 percent of US smartphone sales with Android at the same 52 percent.

The addition of T-Mobile to Apple’s slate of US carrier partners appears to have been a good decision. Despite the iPhone 5 appearing in the middle of the carrier’s sales, Apple’s latest smartphone generated 31 percent of T-Mobile’s overall smartphone sales during the period.

While the strong demand was not enough to counter a 3.4 percent drop in sales for the fourth-place carrier, the strong desire to purchase an iPhone could eventually help T-Mobile, Kantar suggested.

Another strong sign of pent-up demand for the iPhone appeared as Kantar said nearly half of T-Mobile customers buying an iPhone 5 were upgrading from a feature phone.

That 53 percent figure is well above the 45 percent market average.Signaling demand stretches into the future, almost a third of T-Mobile subscribers who plan to change devices within the next year, expect to pick the iPhone, according to Kantar.