Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, a market analysis division of WPP, has today published its latest figures on mobile device sales across a number of key markets, and it looks like something of a milestone for Android: this is the first time in ComTechs recording of sales that Android has accounted for more than half of all smartphone sales in the US, the biggest markets in Europe, and Australia.
The results give more weight to Samsungs current domination; and underscore how important it is for Apple to wow the market next month with the launch of a new handset.
Kantar, which bases its conclusions on millions of interviews with consumers every month (1 million in Europe alone, it notes), found that Samsung is currently the top selling brand in Europe at the moment, thanks in part to a successful launch of the S3 in May, but also aggressive pricing in a region hit by economic pressures.
Samsung accounted for 45% of all smartphone sales across the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain in the last 12 weeks that ended July 8.
Arch rival Apple, in contrast, accounted for just 16% of all sales in the region, Kantar analyst Dominic Sunnebo tells us.
Androids share of sales across the big five European countries is now at 66%, a big jump from 43% a year ago, Kantar notes.
Apples lackluster performance in Europe is something that Apple itself highlighted during its last earnings report, blaming the economy and people holding off on purchases until the next iPhone release.
An important point here is that there is very little difference in price between an Apple iPhone or an Android phone in the US, so the choice is made purely on what the consumer wants, not what they can afford, he tells us, whereas in Europe, Apple continues to command a price premium over Android.
Kantar showed that as a result of these factors, Apple took between 4.3% and 11.4% fewer sales in the last 12 weeks than it did a year ago across the markets of Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Australia with Australia accounting for the biggest of those declines.
RIM and Symbian saw declines in sales shares in just about every market listed below: the one exception is Symbian in the US, where the share of sales is so small just 0.5 percent but at least a rise of 0.3 percentage points compared to the same period a year ago.
Interestingly, despite Android doing so well globally, it actually declined in one key market: the US its 51.5% share of the market is actually 5.3 percentage points down on a year ago.
The BlackBerry OS by RIM had the greatest decline – from having a 19.3% market share in the previous year to just 10.6% this year.
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Indeed, he notes that the S3 is more of a brand pusher than a direct sales generator: While the majority of noise is focused on big name products such as the S3 or S2, it’s easy to forget that Samsung is selling smartphones across all tiers, he notes in the report.
For example, in the UK, Worldpanel notes that the Samsung Galaxy Ace and Y are popular choices for young people who were previously using traditionally loyal in its words to RIMs Blackberry.
In the US Apples share of sales went up by 9.5 percentage points to account for 38.2% of all sales in the period.
Kantar notes that a lot of this appears to be about people holding off from purchases until the next iPhone comes along.
Android handsets currently offer an easier platform to enable these consumers to upgrade, as many first time smartphone consumers state price of handset and multimedia capabilities as their main reason for choosing an Android device, he writes in the news release.
Indeed, the Apple brand continues to command high loyalty: in the UK 80% of consumers who own an iPhone have bought another; and 92% say they plan to stick with Apple when they next upgrade.
With this in mind, any dip in Apple share is likely to be short lived with the release of an updated iPhone in quarter three bringing momentum back to the Cupertino giant, he concludes.
The only country where it has managed to stave off market share declines is in France, where it only accounted for 9.2% of sales.
Market share is closely monitored for signs of change in the competitive landscape, and it frequently drives strategic or tactical action.
The newer entrant, Microsofts Windows Phone is showing positive signs, in that its percentage of sales is growing in different markets, but it remains in the single digits, and will be hard pressed to make inroads in the short term with Android device makers continuing to perform so well.
It is followed by iOS with 25.6%, and then by Windows Phone 7 with 3.7%.
Windows Phone 7 is gaining some ground in Australia, with 4.8% of the market, an increase of 2.7%.
And just as RIM has a (sort of) break out market in the form of the UK, Symbian is still seeing a bit of life in Italy, where it accounted for 12.8% of sales, although that is a decline of more than 22 percentage points on last year.
Sean Brierley is a business journalist based in Hobart, Australia. Sean has a passion for financial markets and breaking news stories and loves writing about business news, stock market, and economic opinions that matters most to its audience. Sean spends a lot of time discovering and researching latest financial markets and industry news stories in order to make sure the latest and greatest stories are brought to you first on BigBoardNews.com.