Windows Phone gains in Europe, Apple up in US: survey

WASHINGTON - Windows-based smartphones are making significant inroads in Europe, while Apple's iPhone is strengthening its position in the United States, a survey showed Monday.

Data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech for the three months ending in August showed Windows Phone, the mobile platform from Microsoft, has posted its highest ever sales share of 9.2 per cent in the five major European markets.

Windows had a 12 per cent share in Britain, 10.8 per cent France, 9.5 per cent in Italy, 8.8 per cent in Germany and 2.2 per cent in Spain, the survey found.

"Windows Phone's latest wave of growth is being driven by Nokia's expansion into the low and mid range market with the Lumia 520 and 620 handsets," said Kantar analyst Dominic Sunnebo.

"These models are hitting the sweet spot with 16- to 24 year-olds and 35- to 49-year-olds, two key groups that look for a balance of price and functionality in their smartphone," he said.

Android, the Google platform used by Samsung and several other manufacturers, remains the top operating system across Europe with a 70 per cent market share but it is being threatened by higher growth from Windows and Apple's iOS, the survey found.

"After years of increasing market share, Android has now reached a point where significant growth in developed markets is becoming harder to find," Sunnebo said.

"Android's growth has been spearheaded by Samsung, but the manufacturer is now seeing its share of sales across the major European economies dip year on year as a sustained comeback from Sony, Nokia and LG begins to broaden the competitive landscape."

In the United States, Android has also seen its market share drop to 55.8 per cent from 60.7 per cent a year earlier, while Apple's share was up more than five percentage points at 39.3 per cent. Windows rose to 3.0 per cent from 2.6 per cent.

Kantar said it expects Apple's share "to spike in the coming months with the release of the iPhone 5S and 5C," unveiled on September 20.

Apple and Android are roughly even in Japan with 48.6 per cent for iOS and 47.4 per cent for Android. But the agreement with Japan's largest carrier, NTT DoCoMo, for the first time makes it likely that Apple will pull ahead of Android in this market, according to Kantar.

Apple also made strong gains in Britain, France and Spain, the survey found.

BlackBerry's woes have deepened, with the Canadian firm accounting for just 2.4 per cent of sales across the big five European markets and 1.8 per cent in the United States, Kantar said.