Apple has a 45% share of the US smartphone market and is the affluent consumer's handset brand of choice.
New NPD Group research shows that the higher a US consumer's income, the higher the likelihood that Apple is his or her smartphone brand of choice, despite competition from other premium handsets.
According to the research and analytics firm, Apple's share of the US smartphone market grew to 45 percent over the past year, even though the market as a whole is being driven by demand for low to medium-cost handsets.
When NPD broke the data down to show smartphone ownership by income level, it found that the iPhone had a 33 percent market share among consumers with a $100,000+ income (Samsung represents 18%) and a 24 percent share of the $60,000-$100,000 annual income bracket, compared with Samsung's 20 percent.
However, at the other end of the income table, the roles are reversed, with 35 percent of smartphone owners earning under $30,000 having a Samsung handset (compared with Apple's 20 percent in this segment) and accounting for 27 percent of the market when it comes to those earning between $30,000 and $60,000.
NPD's data shows that the biggest continued growth in the US smartphone market is among consumers earning less than $30,000. Sales growth jumped from 21 percent in 2012 to 31 percent in 2013.
As for the discovery that expensive products are popular with people who are wealthy, the real point of the data is to highlight that although most of the major smartphone makers offer a flagship handset from Samsung's Galaxy SIV and LG's G2, to the HTC One, when it comes to competing with the iPhone, they all come off second best.
All of which suggests that they need to reconsider what it is that makes a smartphone a premium or desirable product.