Apple's iOS continues to outshine Android, at least in the United States, according to data released today by Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.
For the final quarter of 2012, the iPhone won 51.2 percent of all U.S. smartphone sales. In second place, Android soaked up around 44.8 percent of U.S. sales, leaving Microsoft's Windows Phone with 2.6 percent.
Apple's flagship platform also scored well in Japan, proving tops among two-thirds of Japanese smartphone buyers.
"Apple's continual improvement is thanks to both the iPhone 5 and older models attracting various customer groups, from repeat Apple buyers, first-time smartphone buyers. and those coming from other smartphone brands," Kantar analyst Mary-Ann Parlato said in a statement.
Over the past year, 36 percent of iOS sales in the U.S. came from users of other smartphones, notably Android. The percentage of Android users jumping ship to the iPhone was 19 percent in 2012, compared with 9 percent in 2011, according to Kantar.
Verizon subscribers were especially eager to hop onto iOS. A full 59 percent of iPhone-buying Verizon customers came from other brand phones, while 30 percent had used Android specifically. In comparison, 15 percent of AT&T users who bought an iPhone jumped from a different platform, while only 6 percent were former Android users.
Among other iPhone buyers, 35 percent upgraded from a previous model, while 30 percent were buying their first smartphone, Kantar said.
Android is still No. 1 throughout the world, including key countries such as the U.K., China, Spain, Australia, and Germany, according to the report. But it's lost some of its fire.
"At the end of 2012, the global OS picture shows Android on top, but clearly the rate of growth it experienced over the past year is beginning to slow as easy wins from first-time smartphone buyers begin to reduce," Kantar analyst Dominic Sunnebo said in a statement.
Samsung is tops in the U.K., with 35 percent of smartphone sales last quarter. But Apple is catching up with 32 percent.
Finally, Microsoft's Windows Phone is gaining some traction in Europe. For the quarter, Windows Phone won 5.9 percent of smartphone sales in Britain, up from 2.2 percent a year ago, and 13.9 percent in Italy, up from 2.8 percent the prior year.
"It has been far slower than Microsoft would have liked, but Windows Phone is now starting to gain respectable shares in a number of key European countries," Sunnebo said. "However, its performance in the Chinese and U.S. markets remains underwhelming. As the two largest smartphone markets in the world, these remain key challenges for Microsoft to overcome during 2013."
The data comes from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech USA's consumer panel, which conducts more than 250,000 interviews per year in the United States. This report focused strictly on sales rather than market share.