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Android drops in US sales but still dominates, says report

Android still claims slightly more than half of US smartphone sales, says research firm Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.

Kantar Worldpanel ComTech

Android may be seeing fewer sales in the US lately but it still reigns supreme.

Over three months ending in July, Android's share of US smartphone sales sunk to 51.1 percent, Kantar Worldpanel ComTech said on Wednesday. That number was down 7.6 percent from the 58.7 percent captured in the same period last year.

The research firm blamed the fall on fewer first-time smartphone buyers.

First-time smartphone buyers are a key consumer group in the US, as more than half of the market still owns a feature phone, according to Kantar Global Strategic Insight Director Dominic Sunnebo. He says that between July 2011 and July 2012, 52 percent of customers who bought an Android device previously owned a feature phone. Over this past year, that number has declined to 46 percent.

Over the same time, iOS watched its share of sales rise from 35.6 percent a year ago in the same period to 43.4 percent. Apple was helped by first-time smartphone buyers, who have steadily accounted for 43 percent of iPhone purchases. Demand for the iPhone 4 among first-time buyers grew to 15 percent in this year's three-month July period compared with 9 percent over the same period last year.

Windows Phone saw its share of sales inch up half a percentage point. But Kantar predicts heavier demand, thanks to Microsoft's just-announced buyout of Nokia's device and services division.

"With Microsoft's acquisition of Nokia, we may see a larger proportion of consumers choosing a Windows device over iOS or Android, replicating the strength seen in Europe and Mexico (where lower-priced Nokia handsets now represent about 1 in 10 of every smartphone sold)," Kantar stated. "Windows has shown, in the past, particular strength among first-time smartphone buyers, and Nokia has benefited the most from the OS growth thus far. Nokia, as a brand, still represents 7 percent of the feature phone market, and it is likely that many of these consumers will upgrade in the coming year."

Kantar's data comes from its USA consumer panel, which conducts more than 240,000 interviews of mobile phone users each year in the US alone. The data measures sales rather than market share.