The iPhone gained some lost ground in its global share of smartphone sales last quarter but continues to lag behind the Android juggernaut.
For the first quarter of 2014, the iPhone saw a higher slice of sales in several key countries, including the UK, France, Spain, Japan, and Australia, Kantar said in a report released Monday. As one example, the iPhone's share of smartphone sales surged to 57.6 percent in Japan, up from 49 percent for the same quarter last year. The iPhone is actually the favorite among Japanese consumers, leaving Android in second place with a 41.5 percent share.
Over the past quarter, the iPhone snagged 42 percent of all smartphone sales on Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo, 59 percent on KDDI AU, and 81 percent on Softbank, according to Kantar. Japanese consumers cited the phone's design and 4G capability as well as its expected reliability as key factors behind its appeal.
"The success of the iPhone is also filtering through to the iPad, with almost a quarter of Japanese iPhone owners also owning an iPad," Kantar strategic insight director Dominic Sunnebo said in a statement. "With smartphone penetration in Japan lagging well behind Europe and the US, Japan will remain a key growth market for Apple."
But Android rules the rest of the world, notably in Europe where it captured a 70.7 percent share of smartphone sales last quarter, dumping the iPhone into second place with just 19.2 percent.
In the US, the iPhone lost ground in the first quarter as its share of sales fell to 35.9 percent from 43.7 percent a year ago. Over the same time, Android's US share climbed to 57.6 percent from 49.3 percent.
In third place, Microsoft's Windows Phone saw growth in several countries, including the UK, France, Italy, and Spain. Kantar pegged its overall share in Europe at 8.1 percent, up from 6.5 percent a year ago.
Kantar derives its smartphone sales data by interviewing mobile phone owners and tracking mobile phone purchases.