The Apple retail store in Palo Alto, California

Apple takes smartphone top spot from Google in U.S.

Early success for the iPhone 5 smartphone has helped Apple to overtake Google's Android software in the United States.

Apple's U.S. market share in the 12 weeks to October 31 more than doubled from a year ago to 48.1 per cent, putting it within reach of the record 49.3 per cent it managed in early 2012.

“The last time we saw iOS overtake Android in the US was when the iPhone 4S was released and Apple managed to retain its lead for three consecutive periods,” said Dominic Sunnebo, global consumer insight director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.

“This time we predict that Apple will beat its previous high of 49.3 per cent and achieve its highest ever share of the US smartphone market within the next two periods.”

Android's share dropped to 46.7 per cent from 63.3 per cent, Kantar WorldPanel's data showed, but it continues to dominate in key European markets.

The platform 74 per cent market share in Germany and 82 per cent in Spain.

Its combined share of the top five European markets rose to 64 per cent, from 51 per cent a year earlier, while Apple's share edged up by one percentage point to 21 per cent.

“Germany remains a tough market for Apple with its share falling by 5.1 percentage points over the past year,” Sunnebo said.  

“The Samsung Galaxy S3 has taken almost a quarter of the country’s smartphone sales over the past 12 weeks to boost Android yet further.

“In Italy, strong sales of the Nokia Lumia 610, the fourth best selling handset over the past 12 weeks, and the Nokia Lumia 800, the seventh best selling, have helped drive Windows’ share up to 11.7 per cent – the highest across Europe.”

The majority of US iPhone 5 sales, 62 per cent, have come from existing Apple owners upgrading to the new device, although Apple has also benefitted from people switching from Android devices (13%), people switching from BlackBerry devices (6 per cent) and a small number of first time smartphone owners.

“Apple has always managed to maintain loyalty levels far above the competition, and this has clearly played a part in driving sales of its new device,” Sunnebo said.  

“An impressive 92 per cent of existing Apple owners in the US said they will choose an iPhone the next time they upgrade.  

“While loyalty is clearly key, it is also important to make sure that new customers are attracted to your brand.

“With roughly 60 per cent of US iPhone 5 sales coming from existing customers and 40 per cent from new consumers, Apple is achieving this at the moment – a clear sign of the strength of the brand in the US marketplace.”

One of the key physical changes on the iPhone 5 was the inclusion of a bigger 4” screen and 4G/LTE capability, both of which appear to have had a big impact on the ways consumers are using their devices compared to previous models.

“Previous KWP ComTech data has shown that bigger screens make a significant impact on the reality of how consumers actually use their device, and the latest usage data shows this is clearly the case for the iPhone 5,” Sunnebo said.   

“The usage data is likely to come down over time as iPhone 5 users at this stage will inevitably be early adopters and therefore more engaged with the category, but initial signs are very positive.”

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