iOS market share falls 3.8% in U.S. despite launch of high-profile phones

Apple, iPhone X, 3D sensors
The iPhone X was the top-selling handset in Great Britain and Japan despite constrained supplies. (Image: Apple)

Apple’s share of the smartphone operating system market in the United States fell during the three-month period ending in November despite the release of three much-anticipated high-end handsets, according to fresh data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.

The market research firm said iOS’s share in America tumbled by 3.8 percentage points—down to 39.8%--even as the company launched the iPhone 8, 8S and iPhone X amid the holiday shopping season. Interestingly, iOS grew its presence in urban China, gaining 4.6 percentage points to nearly reach 25%, while its share in the five major European markets dipped .6% to 23.9%.

“On the surface Apple’s share figures for the three months to November struggle to impress, but taking into account the staged releases of the new iPhone 8 and iPhone X there are some strong performances,” said Dominic Sunnebo, Kantar’s global director, in a press release. “Great Britain, Apple achieved its highest share in more than three years in the month of November, taking it to 49.4% and easily regaining the number one sales position from Samsung.”

Indeed, the iPhone X enjoyed some impressive sales figures around the world despite manufacturing problems that severely constrained stocks of the phone, which carriers a starting price tag of more than $1,000. Apple reportedly was forced to deal with defects stemming from the bonding process for OLED screens, and the facial-recognition feature also proved difficult during assembly.

The iPhone X was the top-selling model in Great Britain in November, accounting for 14.4% of all smartphone sales, and it also led all smartphone sales in Japan during that month with an 18.2% share. Demand for the latest model “has been staggering given its price point,” Kantar observed.

The key for Apple, of course, will be in maintaining its momentum in the coming months as Samsung prepares to launch its latest flagship and as a small army of Chinese vendors continues to move aggressively into new markets.

“Apple is now back on form–the iPhone X was the top selling model in urban China in November, with a market share of 6.0%,” Sunnebo concluded. “Unlike in Europe and the US, where the vast majority of new early iPhone X sales came from existing Apple smartphone owners, in urban China there are significant numbers of Huawei, Xiaomi and Samsung customers switching to the new iPhone models, which they deem a cut above the rest.”