iPhone 6 sales boost Apple's smartphone OS market share

The gains came at the expense of Android

The launch of the iPhone 6 helped Apple increase its share of the smartphone OS market in eight countries, according to a report from research firm Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.

For the three months ending in November 2014, iOS's market share grew in the U.S., Germany, the U.K., China, France, Australia, Italy and Spain. Sales were weaker in only one of the surveyed countries, Japan, where Apple's share fell by 15.3 percentage points. The decrease wasn't due to a lack of interest in the iPhone 6, which went on sale globally last September. Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo began carrying the iPhone in 2013, a move that gave iPhone sales a special boost that year, Kantar said.

In the U.S., the iPhone 6 was the best-selling smartphone during the survey period, capturing 19 percent of smartphone sales, Kantar said. More than half -- 57 percent -- of iPhone sales were generated by Verizon and AT&T.

Android remained the dominant mobile OS globally, buoyed by the ecosystem's variety of devices and prices, but its market share decreased in the U.S. and some European countries compared with the same period in 2013. In the U.S., Android's market share was 48.4 percent, down from 50.4 percent. Sales in the U.K., France, Germany, Spain and Italy, Europe's five biggest economies, were collectively down by 3.2 percentage points. Even with this decline, Android was still the leading mobile OS in those five nations, holding a 69.9 percent market share.

In Europe, the iPhone 6 launch impacted Android the most in the U.K., where sales were down by 6.7 percentage points while iPhone sales increased by 12.2 percentage points.

A bright spot for Android was China. In that country's urban areas, Android reached a market share of 80.4 percent, helped by the variety of Chinese phone makers that build devices with the OS, according to Kantar. Chinese electronics manufacturer Xiaomi built 30.2 percent of Android phones sold during the survey period. This was an increase of 18 percentage points compared to the year-earlier period. By comparison, iPhone market share in urban China reached 18.1 percent, an increase of 1.1 percentage point.

People who have resisted purchasing a smartphone may no longer have a choice, as vendors phase out feature phones, the report noted. Among feature phone owners who plan on changing their device in the next six months, 47 percent in the U.S. and 35 percent in Europe's five largest economies aren't planning on buying a smartphone. According to Kantar, the smartphone penetration rate is 65 percent in Europe's five biggest economies and 58 percent in the U.S.

Fred O'Connor writes about IT careers and health IT for The IDG News Service. Follow Fred on Twitter at @fredjoconnor. Fred's e-mail address is fred_o'connor@idg.com

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