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iPhone 6 bites into Android's share of smartphone sales

Google's mobile OS still leads in worldwide smartphone sales, but Apple saw its share rise in virtually all countries surveyed by research firm Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.


Apple saw a notable gain in smartphone sales around the world courtesy of its new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, according to a report out Wednesday from market researcher Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.

In the three months from September through November, iOS increased its share of smartphone sales year over year in eight of nine countries covered by Kantar.

In the US, Apple's slice of sales rose to 47.4 percent from 43.1 percent over the same period in 2013. In Australia, iOS's smartphone sales share increased to 44.9 percent from 35 percent a year ago. And in the so-dubbed European Union Five -- France, Germany, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom -- Apple saw its share swell to 23.8 percent from 17.5 percent.

Its share of Chinese smartphone sales inched up to 18.1 from 17 percent for the period, though the phone was only released there on October 17.

Only in Japan did Apple's share of smartphone sales drop. Its 2013 performance had risen after the company added NTT DoCoMo as an iPhone carrier, Kantar noted.

The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus launched on September 19 in several countries, including the US, UK, Australia, France, Germany and Japan. Italy and Spain began sales of the phones on September 26. China got custody of them on October 17 following a regulatory snafu that held up its launch there.

As a result, Kantar's numbers for the new iPhones don't actually cover the full three-month period.

Meanwhile, Android's chunk of smartphone sales fell in five of the nine countries surveyed.

In the US, Android's sales share dipped to 48.4 percent from 50.4 percent. In Australia, its share dropped to 45 percent from 55.1 percent. In the EU5, Android watched it share of sales go down to 66.8 percent from 69.9 percent. Android lifted its share in China to 80.4 percent from 78.6 percent with help from local manufacturers.

"The wide variety of products offered by local manufacturers [in China] continues to push Android's share", Tamsin Timpson, strategic insight director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech Asia, said. "Xiaomi remains the biggest contributor to Android's success as it averaged 30.2 percent of sales in the three months ending in November, an astonishing 18 percentage point rise over 2013."

Android is a diverse market with multiple vendors, some of which fared better than others. Samsung, for example, saw its share of sales drop in the US and Europe, but Motorola watched its share grow, aided by its Moto X and Moto G phones.

"While remaining the dominant global OS, Android's market share dropped in most European markets and in the US where the decline was the first since September 2013", Carolina Milanesi, chief of research at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, said in a statement. "A decline in Android market share does not necessarily translate into bad news for all the ecosystem's players. The choice of brands and devices within the ecosystem empowers consumers to drive different fortunes for the players in it."

Still, the new iPhones are luring consumers away from Android around the world and will continue to do so, according to Dominic Sunnebo, strategic insight director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech Europe.

"The longer the new iPhone models are on the market the more their appeal will extend beyond Apple's loyal customers," Sunnebo said. "For now customer switching from Android to iOS remains stable at 18 percent."