Nearly 75% of iPhones are in use outside the US

comScore reported that 15.4 million iPhones were in use in the US as of November. (25% share of 61.5 million total smartphones.)

We also know that about 75 million iPhones were sold by November since the product launched. With about 17 million units older than two years, and assuming that half of those might still be in use and that all the iPhones less than 2 years old are still in use, we get an upper bound of 66.5 million iPhones in use globally.

That means 23% of all iPhones are in use in the US and that 77% are in use outside the US.

Can this be verified?

The sell-through data we have supports a slightly lower figure.

October 2010: 63 percent of iPhones were sold outside the US in Q3

April 2010: Non-US iPhone sales approaching 70% of volumes

This might indicate that comScore surveys under-represent the iPhone or that device attrition/retirement is significant. However, the data does seem to imply that the US is no more than one third and perhaps as little as one quarter of the iPhone’s user base. Perhaps with Verizon, that figure will grow. But at the same time, new international markets (like China) may continue to outgrow the US.

The 4:1 split could continue. After all, the US represents only 234 million out of about 5 billion mobile phone users globally–a mere 4.7%.

  • Priit

    And still Apple childisly introduces iPhone's in US first and after some months globally. I wonder how much of sales they will loose during this one quarter transition period.

    • dchu220

      Do you really need to use the word 'childishly'? It destroys any credibility you had in your comment?

      • thenewperson

        Don't forget using "loose" instead of "lose". I'm not a grammar nazi, but some mistakes just stand out.

      • Atul Barry

        reading this comment, I'm loosing my mind.

      • Sandeep

        well he does make a point I think, regardless of the inappropriate usage of the 'childlishly' term.

    • pk de cville


      By keeping it local, Apple can respond to unexpected problems most easily and they can reduce initial production numbers in 1/2 or more.

      Who's childish here?

      • George

        In addition, Apple gets much more free global publicity bylaunching in the US.

      • Sandeep

        you think people in India or China care for Apple Iphone launch. Apple is a much lower international brand than IBM, Microsoft and Google.
        Maybe when you say world you meant western european countries and Japan I think.

      • dchu220

        What makes you qualified to speak about the China market? Do you realize how hard it is to get an iPhone in China because demand is outstripping supply? Do you realize that people are still flipping unlocked iPhone4s on the grey market for a 25% premium? I do because I live out in Asia and I have friends who are doing just that.

      • Priit

        So why this is not the case with computers, laptops, display's, software, mice, keyboards or may I say, everything else Apple produces? Actually Apple's computers marketshare outside US is way lower than iPhones, actually computer renewals are unpredictable and do not cause 3 months "no sell", but still Apple tries to push them to all markets together.

        So. Your best selling product ever has 75% market outside of your home soil and you deliberately refuse to sell it 3 months (1 before and 2 after announcement) out of 12 in every year. I'm sorry , but childish is a mild word for such a lunacy.

      • dchu220

        It's because people are willing to line up at 5am in the morning for the product. The iPhone and iPad have different supply constraints compared to Apple's other products. They often sell over 1 million units in their opening weekend.

      • arjun_

        I think it gets incredible purchase from launch events in its home country (pre emptive strike for all the China arguers – Buzz off), which I would argue (and I hope someone else will bring figures because I don't have them) has probably the biggest tech media influence on the world. I don't really read a Chinese blog to get my technology news. If I did, it would regurgitate the US blogs, with some tasteless animation as accompaniment.

        I also think the sweeping generalizations (chilidish!? Lunacy?!? – Come on now) in your arguments give away the depths to which you are willing to go to analyze these decisions.

    • Derek Thorne

      The rest of the world is not a single market. You must realise that another way to look at the 75/25 split is: one carrier, in one territory, accounts for a quarter of Apple’s iPhone sales.

      The iPhone is available in what, a couple of dozen other countries worldwide – and through even more carriers than that? Considering those Business 101 concepts like “economies of scale” and "marketing and shipping overhead,” tell us again why launching in the largest market is childish. We’re listening.

  • I had a quick look at the stats for one of our UK based Apps and this is the device distribution as reported by Flurry over the last week (Note that Flurry reports iOS4 Device bundled together on Flurry which may bundle new iPod Touch and iPhone 4) – need to look into what's exactly being reported…

    1. Apple iOS4 Device 2,686,064 Sessions 89.7%
    2. Apple iPhone 3GS 160,371 Sessions 5.4%
    3. Apple iPhone 3G 85,200 Sessions 2.8%
    4. Apple iPod Touch 2G 28,699 Sessions 1.0%
    5. Apple iPhone 9,267 Sessions 0.3%

    • Correction: Stats for 'Last Month' not 'Last week'

    • Sandeep

      so people just throw away the older iphone models ? or that the people who buy used iphone models, don't use your app as much ?

  • Rob Scott

    I would like first to address the US numbers:

    I think the attrition rate is too aggressive at 50% for 3yr old devices. My experience is that devices stay a lot longer on the network (>= 5yrs). This is because devices get passed down to wives, siblings or sold. Almost without exception devices on the network track very close to distributed units until about 5yrs. When this is not the case it is almost always the result of churners taking the device to other networks.

    With the above in mind the US numbers are terrible understated. It is not surprising though that comScore will have the numbers like that; they have a skin in the game. They are biased against the iPhone (iOS); look at their previous skewed reports if you do not believe me.

    The ideal is for AT&T and T – Mobile to “leak” the actual iPhones in use. Maybe someone will help us with that.


    iPhone’s addressable market in the US has been a lot less than 234 million. So here is my take: The share of US iPhones is going to grow from about 28% (Nielsen) to about 33 – 35%. This will happen because the iPhone’s addressable market in the US is growing with the addition of Verizon and in future T-Mobile and Sprint. I guess I am also indirectly arguing that the iPhone will grow faster in the US that the average iPhone growth outside the US. I must admit that is a bold claim.

    I expect Verizon to sell between 12 – 15 million iPhones in calendar year 2011, same numbers for AT&T. I expect the iPhone to achieve a 100% growth outside the US.

    • asymco

      Thanks for the input. I also believe the comScore data to be understating iPhone penetration. I can't say why but Nielsen which should use similar methods for measurement consistently comes up with higher numbers.

    • Priit

      Rob, there's no way VZ to sell 12-5 million iPhones. Apple cannot even produce decent amount of GSM iPhones (!/mezzoblue/status/23487681132503040). Only way I see they can do that is to do "ipads" e.g. cut the global markets short and worry only about US markets (I mean let Foxconn shitcan Europe shipments and start to make CDMA iPhones too) and stuff iPhones everywhere. Depends how scared and paniced Jobs is, looking at the iPad, he's very scared – iPad went on sale in Scandinavia at 1'st Dec or something, full two months(!) before discontinuing, all this while in US perhaps Taco Bell is only chain not carrying iPad 🙂

      • dchu220

        I apologize that the US is still a more important market than Scandinavia.

      • kevin

        12-15m iPhones for Verizon will include both iPhone 4s and 5s during 2011. Since the initial Verizon iPhone design is expected to be largely like the current iPhone 4, there is little retooling, just continued ramping of iPhone 4 production. Then, in a couple of months, iPhone 4 production should start to decrease and replaced by iPhone 5 production; I'm sure, this time around, Apple is projecting larger quantities and getting more production capability.

        This whole "scared and paniced" (sic, it should be panicked) meme is totally silly and childish. Maybe CEOs who are on the firing line are scared, but nobody else is.

    • Sandeep

      why is comscore against iOS ? any proofs or links to suggest the same. I thought comscore was against google basically and keeps telling how bing, facebook are getting more and more pageviews. So if comscore is against google, they would try to underreport android phone numbers and dress up the iphone numbers. So maybe they are objective after all.

      Nielsen on the other hand is consistently pro-Apple. Steve Jobs even made a mention of Nielsen's numbers in 2010 WWDC to show that Iphone was still dominant in US. So that makes nielsen automatically suspect in my eyes.

      Here is my prediction
      US apple IPhone will approach 40 percent of the market
      But world wide IPhone will be less than 20 percent and android will grow to about 35 percent in US and around 30 percent worldwide by end of 2011

  • I just ran off a CSV for September '10 to October '10

    Device Model,Sessions,% of Sessions
    " Apple iOS4Device "," 117947 "," 36.8% "
    " Apple iPhone 3GS "," 89573 "," 28.0% "
    " Apple iPhone 3G "," 71437 "," 22.3% "
    " Apple iPod Touch 2G "," 29083 "," 9.1% "
    " Apple iPod Touch 3G "," 5562 "," 1.7% "

    It was an 'out of season' month for this sports app hence the low session count, but it kind of shows how the new iPhone 4 devices have completely dwarfed the numbers of both the 3G ans 3GS in the last 3 months, which was about the time when you could get one here without having to queue up.

    Obviously you've got to this take with a pinch of salt – it's just one App, but a cursory check shows similar %s in our other Apps.

    P.S. Checked carriers and interestingly O2 is dominating the carrier share – They had the original exclusive up to the 3G.

  • Good stuff, Horace. Any idea on the amount/kind of subsidies for iPhone in international markets. Are they equivalent to the US ($200 upfront, then a 2-year voice and data contract).

    • asymco

      I've looked at the ASP vs. what AT&T is paying and also listened to Tim Cook explain on more than one occasion that the iPhone has the same price to all customers (operators or retailers of unlocked phones).

      Given that it's the same price to all then the question of subsidy is just a matter of asking what the end user price is. That varies widely from zero to no subsidy (about €620 for an iPhone 4 incl. VAT).

    • Sandeep

      no subsidy for iphone in India, though India is still a pretty small market for smartphones.

    • Since iPhone has been available in Australia (July 2008), it has been available to ALL vendors. So the upfront pricing is substantially cheaper than you think, plus it is generally available on any available mobile plan
      Examples at

  • any idea of the percentage of app sales coming from US vs. outside the US? it would be interesting to see how that compares to device sales ratios…

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  • rashomon

    A single data point: I bought a new iPhone 4 (my third paid iPhone, my sixth with warranty replacements) and immediately put my 3g on ebay. It went to Russia for $200. Similar grey market sales as well as attrition bleed the US market. Both my daughters have 3g's too damaged for resell, and replacing them for $200 via Apple doesn't make economic sense compared to simply adding a new iPhone 4, as we're committed to the family plan contract almost as long already.