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Apple's US smartphone market share hit low point prior to iPhone 6S launch

The iPhone's share of the US smartphone market dropped in advance of the new lineup, says Kantar WorldPanel ComTech, but it will certainly bounce back as the new phones gain traction.

The iPhone's US market share dwindled this summer as buyers awaited the new models. CNET

The iPhone's US market share was in the dumps during the three months ended August 31 as consumers awaited the launch of the new iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus, research firm Kantar WorldPanel ComTech said on Wednesday.

The iPhone's slice of the market in the US from June through August dropped 2.1 points to 28.4 percent from 30.5 percent over the same period in 2014. That gave the iPhone its lowest US market share in the past 12 months, according to Kantar.

The data shouldn't come as a shock. This scenario occurs every year. Consumers looking to buy or upgrade to an iPhone typically hold off in the months ahead of a new model. The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus were released in September, so summertime traditionally sees a lull in the phone's market share. Why buy today's model when you can wait a few months and grab the new one? And that's exactly what some users are doing or will do.

"While a month from now may still be too early to report initial sales numbers for the new models, we can say today that 11 percent of iOS owners told us in August that they plan to replace their current phone in the next three months, and 87 percent of these have told us that Apple is their preferred brand," Kantar chief of research Carolina Milanesi said in a statement.

The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus fared better in China where they were at the top of the list of best-selling smartphones, Kantar said. Over the three months ended August, the iPhone's slice of the market in China rose by 5.1 points to 19.4 percent from 14.3 from the prior year. iPhone customers in China cited the screen clarity and resolution, the camera quality and the size of the screen as the top reasons for purchasing the phone.

The iPhone also proved popular elsewhere around the world where it saw market share gains of 4.6 percent in Germany, 5.8 percent in the UK, 6.7 percent in Japan and 8.5 percent in Australia. On the flip side, Android's market share grew in the US but continued to slide in other regions, dropping by 7.1 percent in Germany, 5.2 percent in the UK, 5.9 percent in Japan and 11.2 percent in Australia.

The smartphone market in Europe is facing challenging conditions, Milanesi told CNET in September. Samsung and other Android players are meeting higher competition from local vendors, especially those in China. The European market is also seeing fewer first-time smartphone buyers. That condition increases the churn rate, meaning the rate at which existing smartphone buyers switch to a different mobile operating system. And in Europe, that has hit Android harder than it has Apple, Milanesi said.