The unsubsidized prices start at $649. That is proving to be too much for many people looking to stay connected on the go, prompting them to snap up more affordable smartphones, including Android devices made by Samsung Electronics Co. and others. Google Inc. doesn't charge for the Android mobile operating system, making it easier for device makers to undercut the iPhone. Apple doesn't allow rivals to use the iPhone's iOS operating system at all.
Android devices accounted for 75 percent of smartphone shipments during the three months ending in September, up from 58 percent at the same time in 2011, according to the research firm IDC. The iPhone's share stood at 15 percent in September, up from 14 percent in the previous year.
Google says more than 500 million Android devices have been activated since the software's release four years ago. By comparison, Apple had sold about 271 million iPhones through last September.
Apple could fall further behind as it focuses more on markets outside the U.S. and Europe. That's because many households in some of the most promising markets can't afford iPhones at their current prices.