The shift is no big surprise -- analysts have been expecting the iPhone to begin losing its stronghold to Android for some time now -- but this is one of the first concrete signs suggesting the trend may actually be upon us.
[ Stay up on tech news and reviews from your smartphone at infoworldmobile.com. | Get the best iPhone apps for pros with our business iPhone apps finder. | See which smartphone is right for you in our mobile "deathmatch" calculator. ]
Apple's iPhone fall
The new numbers come from ABI Research, an analytics firm based in New York. ABI measures sales of smartphones from quarter to quarter and works with manufacturers to ensure its data is in line with the companies' own estimates.
According to ABI, Apple's iPhone accounted for 18.1 percent of global smartphone sales in the third quarter of 2009. In the fourth quarter, that number dropped to 16.6 percent.
The change itself isn't enormous, but what's noteworthy is that smartphone sales overall grew by 26 percent -- yet, even with that significant growth in the market, Apple's iPhone sales fell.
"We're getting to a point where the iPhone is starting to look a little tired, a little dated," ABI's Kevin Burden tells me.
This is Apple's first quarter-to-quarter drop in smartphone market share in two years, ABI's research indicates. The last time the iPhone suffered a loss was in late 2008.