Apple Surpasses Windows Mobile To Take No. 2 User Base Slot In U.S.

According to research firm comScore, Apple's iPhone now has the second largest user base in the U.S. smartphone market, having surpassed Windows Mobile based phones. Research In Motion's (RIM) BlackBerry still holds the No. 1 spot and enjoyed pretty significant growth throughout the year.

Mark Donovan, senior analyst with Virginia-based comScore, said in the three months ending in October, nearly 9 million Americans used Apple's iPhone as their primary phone. In the study, nearly 15 million people identified RIM as the maker of their primary smartphone. Microsoft's Windows Mobile phones were used by an estimated 7.1 million people during the same survey period. Based on comScore's research, approximately 36 million Americans own a smartphone, while around 196 million use a traditional cell phone.

Every three months, comScore compiles its results for a smartphone survey that collects data from thousands of U.S. consumers. This latest report focuses on the three-month period which ended in October of this year.

As Donovan cautioned, there's a difference between sales and user base: "The surveys aren't a measurement of sales velocity in the last quarter, but of the installed base using the phone as their primary." Donovan acknowledged that the iPhone has been outselling Windows Mobile phones for some time. "But there has been a large installed base of Windows Mobile phones out there, which accounts for its strength until recently."

Additional research from comScore indicates that Windows Mobile may be in for some additional hurt: Prospective smartphone buyers are leaning toward buying iPhones and Google Android-based phones in the next 90 days. Based on the data, 20% of users who plan to buy a smartphone in the next three months are likely to buy an iPhone, while 17% intend to buy an Android device. Of the group of prospective Android buyers, 8% specifically tagged Verizon's Droid as their expected buy.