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Apple Ends 2015 as Leading Smartphone Brand in U.S. & China



Apple Ends 2015 as Leading Smartphone Brand in U.S. & China

In Great Britain, Android Returns to Growth for the First Time in 2015

The latest smartphone sales data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech for the December 2015 quarter shows Android’s steady growth continuing in the U.S. and EU5 where Android reached 59 and 71 percent respectively.

Europe’s big five markets (“EU5”) include Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain.

“Now more than ever it is interesting to highlight the difference in performance of iOS versus Apple. As a vendor, Apple was able to return to the top of the leader boards in the U.S. and China, while iOS has struggled to return to the market share it saw in 2014 across a number of markets, especially in the U.S.,” reported Carolina Milanesi, chief of research at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech. “Apple loyalty in the U.S. is at its highest since 2012, reinforcing the fact that customer retention is not an issue. However, customer acquisition from Android has gone from 13% in 4Q14 to 11% in 4Q15, and the contribution that first-time smartphone buyers make to Apple overall sales numbers went from 20% to 11% over that same period.”

“In urban China, Apple regained its title of most-sold smartphone brand with a share of 27% and had the top three models in that market,” commented Tamsin Timpson, strategic insight director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech Asia. “Huawei remained the top seller within the Android ecosystem as it captured 34% of sales. Xiaomi is now a distant second in the ranking at 10 percentage points below Huawei.”

“The U.S. market continues to be very competitive as smartphone penetration reached 65% among mobile phone users and 84% of overall mobile phone sales,” noted Milanesi. “The pool of available new buyers is shrinking and Android’s wider price range helps them grab late adopters looking for their first smartphone. During the quarter, 31% of Android buyers upgraded from a feature phone, only slightly lower than the 34% recorded in the same period of 2014. This trend is impacting vendors within the Android ecosystem as brands with more price competitive offerings, such as Huawei, LG, ZTE and Alcatel, are growing in market share at the expense of brands such as Samsung and HTC.

“In Europe’s big five markets, iOS share grew considerably quarter-over-quarter, but sales were not enough to show year-over-year growth,” said Dominic Sunnebo, business unit director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech Europe. “Once again, Android share was boosted by a strong performance in the more price-conscious markets of Spain and Italy. Android also recorded year-over-year growth in Great Britain for the first time in the course of 2015 as Samsung, LG and Huawei all grew share.”

“As consumers’ excitement about smartphones continues to wane and as mature markets approach saturation, vendors are seeking other ways to drive growth and margins,” Milanesi said. “Yet, smartphones are not going anywhere anytime soon, and will play an important part in what is to come, from VR to wearables to the connected home. Vendors who want to remain in this business must continue to evolve and offer more compelling services and features that drive engagement or face the risk of becoming irrelevant in the wider ecosystem smartphones are enabling.”

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