Apple might have taken a beating on the stock market recently, but new figures should give investors peace of mind — at least temporarily. In the last three months of 2012, Apple achieved its highest ever share of smartphone sales in the United States, with the iPhone taking 53.3%, a 17.5% gain from one year ago, according to Kantar Worldwide ComTech.
The research firm credits the latest iPhone 5 for the sales boost, and notes that Android’s share of U.S. sales slipped by almost 11%. The iPhone essentially took its place in first position.
Great news for Apple, but there’s a caveat: Android’s comparatively cheaper phones are growing everywhere else.
In Europe’s five biggest countries (Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Spain), sales of devices running Google’s mobile operating system stood at 61% in the last three months, up from 51.8% a year ago. Meanwhile the reign in Spain goes to Google, not Apple: Apple’s share is almost non-existent in the Mediterranean country, where its share of smartphone sales is a paltry 4.4%, and Android dominates with 84.1%.
In Australia, Android has raced ahead to claim 58% of smartphone sales, while the iPhone’s share has declined to around 36%. The gap is even wider in Brazil, where Android has leapt to grab 60.7% of sales, while the iPhone has fallen to just 1.6%. Kantar didn’t have growth data for sales in what it called “urban China,” but you can surmise a similar story: Android has 72.2% of the Chinese market, Apple 19.2%. Separate research from IDC also shows the iPhone’s ranking in China falling because of competition from cheaper, local handsets.
One of the big drivers of this international paradox for Apple is Samsung, which replaced Nokia earlier this year as the world’s biggest handset manufacturer. Kantar notes that in the last 12 weeks it had the biggest share of handset sales overall in Europe at 44.3%, while Apple trailed with 25.3%. Rival handset makers HTC, Sony and Nokia are still battling it out for third place.
Nokia may stand the better chance in Europe, depending on how consumers react to its latest Windows Phone 8 models in 2013 and better pricing plans from carriers. Windows Phone, which is primarily available on HTC and Nokia handsets, also benefits from strong resources that Microsoft can plug into marketing and distribution. And Nokia’s Lumia 920 is one of the few smartphones available on the Everything Everywhere (EE) 4G network in Britain.
One upside for Apple is that America isn’t completely saturated with iPhones; Kantar’s Dominic Sunnebo predicts that Apple may have more room to grow Stateside, and that the iPhone would “make further gains” in December 2012. How long those gains will last is an open question, and comes amid pressure on Apple to release a cheaper version of the iPhone in emerging markets and other parts of the world where the company lags. The iPhone is crucial to the company’s fortunes, accounting for more than 60% of Apple’s group revenues
And there are yet tougher questions: will Apple get by on the resulting slimmer margins, and will Android’s lead overseas be so big that it becomes increasingly difficult to turn around the iPhone’s narrowing market share? We should know by this time next year.
Have a look at Kantar’s figures below – click on the image to enlarge: