The success of Apple’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models has resulted in iOS overtaking Google’s Android operating system in the US for the first time since 2012, albeit by a slim margin of 0.1pc.
New smartphone sales data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech shows that Apple’s share of sales grew across the US, Europe and China during the critical Christmas period thanks to its latest portfolio of devices.
“While the success of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus is unprecedented, this quarter’s performance also points to Apple having its strongest portfolio ever,” said Carolina Milanesi, chief of research at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.
“With a range of devices available at different price points in both contract and pre-pay Apple was able to take advantage of a weaker Android offering at the premium end of the market,” Milanesi said.
During the Q4 quarter the iPhone 6 was the best-selling smartphone in the US and was also the most popular smartphone to give as a gift.
Samsung retained its number two spot in the vendor chart with the Galaxy S5 which was the second best-selling smartphone.
Android is fighting a decline on most fronts
Last month Kantar reported that Android suffered a decline in almost every market in the three months ending November 2014 and the latest figures prove it.
Across Europe, Android’s share declined by 3.8 percentage points year-on-year to 66.1pc while iOS rose by 6.2 percentage points.
The UK 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.
“Italy was the only European market where Android grew,” said Dominic Sunnebo, strategic insight director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech Europe.
“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.”
Minimal growth for Windows Phone
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.
“In Urban China, Apple iOS grew share year-on-year at the expense of Android,” explained Tamsin Timpson, strategic insight director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech Asia.
“While Xiaomi remained the bestselling brand in the latest period, Apple was able to close the gap slightly, growing its share to 21.5pc from 19pc last year.”
Almost a quarter of Chinese consumers who bought an iPhone in the past three months were acquiring their first smartphone, compared to 16.5pc for the same period in 2013.
Smartphone penetration reached 59pc in the US and 67pc across Europe’s top five economies while emerging markets such as Brazil (35pc) and Mexico (37pc) still have a long way to go.
“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,” Milanesi concluded.
“Apple’s average customer loyalty of 87pc across the US 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 62pc across the US and big European markets.