Android sees strongest growth in years, rocking the Apple cart

11 May 2016

Android has seen its strongest gains in two years, notably in Europe and China. But Apple could fight back with the iPhone SE in these markets

The Android operating system saw the greatest gain in device sales in two years in Europe, the US and China, driven mainly by migration from Windows Phones in Europe and slowing iPhone sales.

However, analysts at Kantar have warned that the Android ecosystem could still be threatened by growing demand for devices like Apple’s lower-cost iPhone SE.

Android sales grew 7.1pc in the EU5 (UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain) to 75.6pc of the market.

In the US, Android’s market share increased 7.3pc to 65.4pc, while in China it rose 6pc to more than 77pc.

“This is the strongest growth for Android across the EU5 in more than two years,” said Lauren Guenveur, mobile analyst for Kantar Worldpanel ComTech. “What’s more, the growth is coming not just from one or two players, but from different brands and ecosystems, varying from region to region.”

‘Android share could also be negatively affected by high demand for the Apple iPhone SE’

In the EU5, iOS market share fell 20.2pc to 18.9pc in the first quarter of 2016.

Broken Windows?

Windows Phone sales dropped five percentage points to become 4.9pc of overall smartphone sales in the region. Nearly 7pc (6.6pc) of new Android customers came from Windows, versus just 3.3pc from iOS. Among new iOS buyers, 2.6pc migrated from Windows.

Android’s gains in the US came from increased sales by ecosystem partners Samsung, Motorola, and LG.

“Although it was available for only a few weeks during this sales period, the Samsung Galaxy S7 was the fifth best-selling device in the three months ending March 2016, capturing 4.2pc of sales,” Guenveur said.

“The Galaxy S6 also performed well, due to price reductions before the S7’s release. Motorola experienced higher sales, particularly with Verizon, and grew to 9.8pc of the smartphone market, up from 6.9pc a year previously.”

In urban China, iOS continued to decline to 21.1pc for the first quarter, compared with 26.1pc a year earlier.

Android had its best year-on-year growth in urban China, growing 5.9pc to 77.7pc.

“Huawei continued to expand, reaching its highest purchase share so far, at 24.6pc,” said Tamsin Timpson, strategic insight director at Kantar Worldpanel.

“This has been driven by the high-end Mate 8 and the value-tier Honor 5X. Oppo, traditionally known as a value-tier brand, reached 6.5pc of smartphone sales.”

Guenveur said that, while all looks rosy in the Android ecosystem, share growth from the Samsung Galaxy S7 has not yet occurred.

“Android share could also be negatively affected by high demand for the Apple iPhone SE. iPhone SE sales will be particularly important in China, where success in the mid-tier will determine the top player in the region. These factors should play out further in the next quarter,” she noted.

Smartphone image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years