Windows OS market share plummets worldwide

The Lumia 950, Microsoft's most recent Windows flagship phone. Image: Microsoft

Smartphone users fled Windows OS over the past year, and while Apple was able to capture more of those gains in the U.S., Android phones shot up in Europe, Asia and Australia.

Windows OS has never been huge in the U.S., and its decline of 1.2 percent market share, according to Kantar Worldpanel ComTech data, wouldn't alone make the difference. But elsewhere in the world, the difference was striking.

  • Italy: Fell from 13.7 percent market share to 4.9 percent, a reduction of 8.8 percentage points

  • France: Fell from 13.1 percent to 5 percent, a reduction of 8.1 percentage points

  • Germany: Fell from 10.5 percent to 4 percent, a reduction of 6.5 percentage points

  • U.K.: Fell from 11.2 percent to 4.9 percent, a reduction of 6.3 percentage points

  • Australia: Fell from 7.4 percent to 2.4 percent, a reduction of 5 percentage points

  • Spain: Fell from 3.9 percent to 0.6 percent, a reduction of 3.3 percentage points

  • China: Fell from 2.3 percent to 0.1 percent (!), a reduction of 2.2 percentage points

Windows OS' plunging user rate is yet another sign that the OS is on its way out. In July, IHS Technology said Microsoft had practically admitted defeat in the smartphone market, and was moving resources back toward the PC version of the OS. The mobile version has never really caught on with developers, leaving users as something of second class citizens when it comes to apps.

And in recent years, Microsoft hasn't shown much enthusiasm for the OS when it comes to handsets, letting the modest amount of hype around a possible Surface phone slowly dwindle.

In international markets, converting Windows phone users have generally gone for Android over iOS. In the five surveyed European countries, Android market share increased by 6 percentage points, while iOS only grew by 1.1 percentage points.

iOS did even worse in the other surveyed countries, with market share shrinking by 1.9 percentage points in Japan, 5.2 percentage points in Australia and 5.5 percentage points in China.

That said, Kantar expects that China could be set for an iOS rebound in years to come. “We believe that Apple’s share in Urban China will bounce back, as the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus become widely available,” explained Lauren Guenveur, Consumer Insight Director of Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, in a blog.

“Our September 2016 data is expected to show that initial iPhone 7 sales plus a boost from the lower-priced iPhone 6s and 6s Plus will begin to reverse iOS share decline that began in February,” she added. “However, with Huawei continuously breaking its own record for the highest share in China – currently 30 percent of smartphone sales – there is no guarantee that Apple will return to the number one position in that market.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. was the big exception to this trend, with Android seeing a reduction in market share in favor of Apple. Android market share fell 1.7 percentage points domestically, while iOS rose 2.5 percent domestically.

“Alcatel and ZTE, sold primarily through prepaid channels such as Walmart and Boost Mobile, each captured 3.5 percent, gaining an average of 2 percentage points in US market share over the past year. That growth, however, was not enough to offset the decline experienced by other Android brands,” wrote Guenveur.

For more:
- see the Kantar Worldpanel ComTech blog post and data

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