Apple's share of smartphone sales grew across Europe, the U.S. and China during the last three months of 2014 due to a strong portfolio of devices based on the iOS operating system (OS), according to smartphone sales data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech for the fourth quarter.
In Europe--where Kantar measures smartphone sales in Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Spain--Android's share declined by 3.8 percentage points year-on-year to 66.1 per cent while iOS rose by 6.2 percentage points to a 24.1 per cent share. Windows Phone also saw a small decline in the fourth quarter by 1 percentage point to 8.9 per cent. Smartphone penetration reached 67 per cent across Europe's top five economies.
"Great Britain had the biggest impact on the decline as iOS grew its share of sales by 13.1 percentage points compared to this time last year with Samsung, LG and Sony all losing market share both year over year and over the previous quarter," said Dominic Sunnebo, strategic insight director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech Europe.
Sunnebo noted that Italy was the only European market where Android grew: the OS increased its market share in this market by 1.1 percentage points to 67.3 per cent, although Apple iOS showed a stronger increase of 5.5 per cent to an 18.3 per cent share.
"Considering the strong pre-pay market and the wider direct channel it is not a surprise that Android products--with their value for money proposition--continue to appeal to Italian consumers," noted Sunnebo.
Windows Phone, soon to be Windows 10, had seen some success across Europe in 2013 but continued to struggle in the latest period, recording minimal growth only in France and Germany, Kantar Worldpanel ComTech added.
Meanwhile the research company also noted the importance of customer loyalty to a particular smartphone brand as developed markets become more saturated and penetration rates increase.
"As the opportunity to attract first-time smartphone buyers in developed economies diminishes, retaining loyal customers is becoming as important as winning them over from competing platforms," said Carolina Milanesi, chief of research. "Apple's average customer loyalty of 87 per cent across the U.S. and Europe certainly looks promising."
While Samsung might be feeling some pressure, its brand loyalty remains by far the strongest within the Android ecosystem with an average of 62 per cent across the U.S. and the big European markets, added Milanesi.
- see this Kantar Worldpanel ComTech release
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