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iPhone 6 reels in Android users across Europe

The iPhone's market share rose by 1.8 percentange points, while Android's slice slimmed down by 3.1 points, says a new report from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.

The new iPhones helped Apple lure over more Android users. CNET

Apple's latest iPhones appear to be luring many European consumers away from Android.

Over the 2015's first quarter from January through March, Apple's share of the smartphone market grew in Europe's five biggest countries, specifically Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Spain, according to a report released Wednesday by Kantar Worldpanel ComTech. Specifically, Apple's slice of the market hit 20.3 percent, 1.8 points higher than the same period in 2014.

At the same time, Android's smartphone share among the big five European nations fell to 68.4 percent in the first quarter, a drop of 3.1 points.

Google's mobile OS is still firmly in the lead across Europe. But the new figures from Kantar show that the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have played a role in convincing more users to jump ship from Android to iOS. Prior to launching its latest iPhones last October, Apple had been losing more market share to Android as consumers craved big-screen smartphones. Apple's strategy of bumping up the displays of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have paid off as screen size is no longer such a deciding factor over whether to opt for iOS or Android.

"In the first quarter of 2015, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus continued to attract consumers across Europe, including users who previously owned an Android smartphone," Carolina Milanesi, chief of research at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, said in a press release. "On average, across Europe's big five countries during the first quarter, 32.4 percent of Apple's new customers switched to iOS from Android."

Last week, in discussing Apple's financial results for the first quarter of 2015 (the company's fiscal second-quarter), CEO Tim Cook said that "we're seeing a higher rate of switchers than we've experienced in previous iPhone cycles," according to a transcript from Seeking Alpha.

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Still, Android remains the dominant mobile platform in Europe due to favorable and flexible pricing for both contract and prepaid customers.

"Thirty-five percent of consumers who bought an Android smartphone in 1Q15 said their decision was driven by receiving a good price on the phone," Dominic Sunnebo, business unit director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech Europe, said. "Another 29 percent said that getting a good deal on the tariff/contract was a factor in their purchase." The European Union applies a tariff or tax on goods imported into Europe.

During the first quarter, Apple fared well in China, where its smartphone share grew by 9.1 points to reach 26.1 percent, up from 17.9 percent over the same period a year ago. Courtesy of the strong iPhone 6 sales, China officially passed the US as Apple's largest iPhone market during this year's first quarter. That's a significant factor as China became the world's largest smartphone market in 2011 and now is home to almost 520 million smartphone users.

In the U.S., Android's market share inched up by 0.2 percentage points, while Apple's inched down by the same number.

"LG had a particularly good first quarter with its share growing to 10.8 percent from 7.4 percent a year ago, while Samsung was holding on to second place as it prepared for the launch of its new Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge in April," Milanesi said.

What about Windows Phone?
Still firmly in third place behind Android and iOS, Windows Phone eked out gains in some countries but lost some share in others. In the US and the big five European countries, Microsoft's mobile OS has shown little growth over the past year, according to Kantar. The one exception is France, where Windows Phone's cut of the smartphone market jumped to 14.1 percent in this year's first quarter from 8.3 percent in the same quarter a year ago.

Microsoft is currently revamping its entire OS strategy with the upcoming release of Windows 10, due out before the end of summer. Windows 10 will offer a more unified environment across desktop PCs, laptops, tablets and mobile phones. The software giant is also trying to convince more developers to create apps for Windows 10 by making it easier to port Android apps to Windows devices.

"Microsoft is betting that new Windows 10 functions and the ability for developers to easily port Android apps to Windows will make the Windows ecosystem more appealing," Milanese said.