Kantar noted, though, that while Android dominated globally, regional patterns have emerged between itself and its rival, iOS. Android appears far stronger across the major European markets and China where it accounted for about 70 percent of smartphone sales during the past Kantar cycle.
However, Apple saw its share rise in the U.S., to 43.4 percent of sales, up from 42.5 percent in Kantar's last report. Across the nine markets, though, Apple only had a 26.3 percent market share.
Windows Phone showed some strength, posting its highest level ever, with 8.2 percent across the five major European markets. Still, it has only a 4.4 percent share globally and in the important market of China, saw its share halved from last year, down to 2.2 percent.
Unlike iOS and Android, which appear to be cannibalizing users from Symbian and BlackBerry, Windows Phones looks to be gaining share by picking up users who are moving from feature phones to their first smartphone.
Dominic Sunnebo, strategic insight director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, commented:
Windows Phone’s success has been in convincing first time smartphone buyers to choose one of its devices with 42% of sales over the past year coming from existing feature phone owners. This is a much higher proportion than Android and iOS. The Lumia 520 is hitting a sweet spot, offering the price and quality that new smartphone buyers are looking for.This data derives from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech USA’s consumer panel, which the company says is the largest continuous consumer research mobile phone panel of its kind in the world. The panel conducts over 240,000 interviews annually in the U.S. alone.
Feature phone owners present a huge opportunity, representing more than half of all mobile users globally** and this will be the new battleground over the next year. With the iPhone 4 and lower end or older Samsung Galaxy models selling well among first time smartphone owners, there is plenty of competition for these customers. The brands that win in this segment will be those that understand and address the needs of consumers in terms of price, content, and quality.
Kantar's report focuses on the sales within a three month period rather than market share figures. Kantar says that such sales shares "exemplify more forward focused trends and should represent the market share for these brands in future."