Analyst: Windows Phone poised to overtake RIM in Europe

Burgeoning sales of low-end Nokia devices are helping Microsoft's Windows Phone platform to challenge BlackBerry maker Research In Motion for third place in Europe's rankings, according to data collected by research firm Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.

Microsoft is formally announcing Windows Phone 8 Oct. 29.

"Windows is making steady progress in the big European economies and is now challenging BlackBerry for third spot in the European OS league," says Dominic Sunnebo, global consumer insight director at WPP-owned Kantar. "With the momentum Windows 8 will bring towards the end of 2012, it seems highly likely that it will achieve this before the end of the year."

Sunnebo claimed the popularity of the low-end Nokia 610 handset is driving sales in key markets such as Italy and France. According to Kantar, the Windows Phone platform saw growth rates of 6.6 per cent in Italy, 3.5 per cent in France and 2.3 per cent in the UK. The research firm said that in Italy, Windows Phone now holds a double-digit market share, 10.4 per cent, a first in the European market."

Still, Microsoft faces an uphill challenge. Microsoft captured just 2.7 percent of the global smartphone market in the second quarter, according to Gartner. Microsoft partners Nokia, HTC and Samsung plan to start selling Windows Phone 8 smartphones globally in the coming weeks. Microsoft plans to formally release Windows Phone 8 at an event in San Francisco Oct. 29. The fourth-quarter sales burst could give it more momentum ahead of RIM's launch of BlackBerry 10, which RIM is banking on to spark its turnaround once it its first BB10 phones are released in the first quarter of 2013.

Kantar also noted that Samsung is making strong progress across Europe, with its smartphone share in the big five European markets at 48 per cent in the latest 12 weeks. Sony Mobile Communications is also gaining ground with its Xperia portfolio, overtaking sales of BlackBerry and Nokia handsets as a result of strong performances in Spain, Germany and France.

While Apple's iOS market share in major European countries has dropped by 4.3 per cent in the period leading up to the iPhone 5 release, Kantar believes iOS will rebound strongly with the success of the new model reflected in next month's data.

For more:
- see this Kantar Worldpanel release
- see this TechCrunch article
- see this FT article (sub. req.)

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