iPhone 4S Helps Apple Inch Up on Android in U.S.

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While Android’s growth has slowed in the United States, Apple’s smartphone market share got a big boost from the iPhone 4S, according to Nielsen.

Every month, Nielsen surveys people who bought new smartphones over the last three months. From October to December, iPhone sales among these recent acquirers jumped from 25.1% to 44.5%, while Android sales dropped from 61.6% to 46.9%.  The biggest spike for the iPhone — and the biggest slump for Android — came in November, after the launch of Apple’s iPhone 4S. The NPD Group recently reported similar findings.

(MORE: Apple iPhone 4S Review: It’s the iPhone 4, Only More So)

The iPhone 4S set records for Apple, with four million handsets sold during its opening weekend (the iPhone’s arrival on Sprint probably helped). Nielsen’s numbers may have also been affected by demand for the iPhone 3GS, which AT&T now sells for free. The iPhone 4S, iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS are now the top-selling phones in the United States, according to the NPD Group.

Although the iPhone is fighting back against Android, both platforms are gaining market share, and are therefore selling more phones as smartphones become more popular. The real loser in Nielsen’s findings is Research in Motion, whose Blackberry phones accounted for only 6% of recent purchases. That’s still more than Windows Phone, which is stuck at 1.4% share, but Microsoft’s OS may get a boost from Nokia’s Lumia 900 when it launches on AT&T.

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