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Record iOS sales in China, plus latest smartphone OS statistics

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With all the industry giants reporting their financials and smartphone sales over the last week or two, it’s a good time to take a brief look at recent data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, which shows that Apple’s iOS sales have reached an all-time high in China where it’s managed to capture a substantial 27.6% of the smartphone market.

iOS captures growing share of Chinese market

“There has been a strong appetite for Apple’s products in urban China seen since the launch of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus and this has continued into Chinese New Year. China Mobile’s subscribers accounted for 59% of the 27.6% volume share recorded by iOS in the latest period”, reported Carolina Milanesi, chief of research at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech. “Across key global markets Apple’s momentum generally continued from last month, with market share gains in all markets except the US and Japan”.

“In urban China, Apple iPhone 6 remained the best selling phone in the three months ending in February growing its share to 10.2% compared to 9.5% registered in the three months ending in January”, explained Tamsin Timpson, strategic insight director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech Asia. “The iPhone 6 Plus was the third best selling smartphone after the iPhone 6 and the Xiaomi RedMI Note. With the two flagships, as well as older models still selling strong, Apple was able to grab the top spot in the smartphone manufacturers ranking. Xiaomi stepped down to number two.”

Apple also this week released its earnings, and revealed another massive blowout quarter, largely driven by sales in China, as the burgeoning middle classes are increasingly attracted to Apple devices. Samsung also revealed its latest figures on its earnings call this week, and while they were disappointing (profits for January to March fell nearly 40% from a year earlier), the South Korean electronics giant has said demand for the S6 Edge had been better than anticipated. The company said it expects earnings to rise in Q2 following the release of its flagship Galaxy S6 models, which have been widely praised in the media.

Smartphone market share across Europe

Across Europe, Android’s share in Q1 this year declined by 2.9 percentage points year-on-year to 67.6% while iOS rose by 2.9 percentage points.

“In Great Britain, as Samsung prepared the channel for the arrival of the new flagships Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, sales of the Galaxy S5 grew slightly over the previous period and captured 8.7% of smartphone sales keeping this model as the second best selling smartphone after the iPhone 6”, said Dominic Sunnebo, business unit director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech Europe”.

iPhone 6 buyers were mainly attracted to the phone for its reliability and durability (48%) and attractiveness of the design (44%) while Galaxy S5 buyers also valued the phone’s reliability and durability (48%) and that the phone was offered on a good deal on tariff or contract ( 48%).

In the US, iOS share dipped slightly to 38.8% from 39.3% this time in 2014. “The iPhone 6 remained the best selling smartphone with buyers mentioning its screen size (45%), LTE capability (44%) and the reliability and durability of the device (43%) as the key purchase drivers”, added Milanesi.

While screen size matters to iPhone 6 buyers, it is even more important for iPhone 6 Plus customers as 70% cited screen size as their purchase driver. This factor has also probably contributed to Apple’s declining sales of its iPad product line, which still remains the most popular tablet despite a slowdown in the tablet market in general.

“The new flagship products in the Android ecosystem by Samsung, HTC, LG and Huawei shipping from April across markets will inject a new spark in the ecosystem battle”, Milanesi concluded. “Differentiation will remain a challenge in an ecosystem where vendors share such an important common denominator – OS. Samsung’s clear departure from previous generation’s design will certainly help the Galaxy S6 and S6 Plus to stand out”.

Here is the breakdown of smartphone operating systems in some of the key world markets:

Smartphone OS Sales Share

Here are the UK numbers in a more easily digestible graph:

Smartphone OS Share UK


About Kantar Worldpanel ComTech’s Smartphone OS Market Share Data

Kantar Worldpanel ComTech’s smartphone OS market share data provides the media and businesses with access to the most up to date sales and market share figures for the major smartphone operating systems. This information is based on research extracted from the Kantar Worldpanel ComTech global consumer panel. ComTech is the largest continuous consumer research / mobile phone tracking panel of its kind in the world, conducting over one million interviews per year in Europe alone. ComTech tracks mobile phone behavior – including phone purchases, bills/airtime, source of purchase, and usage. It also delivers additional data to promote and understanding of the drivers of share changes, and consumer insight market dynamics. All consumer data in this release excludes enterprise sales.

About Kantar Worldpanel

Kantar Worldpanel is the world leader in consumer knowledge and insights, based on continuous consumer panels. Its High Definition Inspiration™ approach combines market monitoring, advanced analytics, and tailored market research solutions that inspire successful actions by its clients. Kantar Worldpanel’s expertise about what people buy or use – and why – is recognised by brand owners, retailers, market analysts, and government organisations globally. With over 60 years’ experience, a team of 3,500, and services covering 60 countries directly or through partners, Kantar Worldpanel helps brands grow in fields as diverse as FMCG, impulse products, fashion, baby, telecommunications and entertainment, and many others.

About Kantar

Kantar is the data investment management division of WPP, and one of the world’s largest insight, information, and consultancy groups. By connecting the diverse talents of its 12 specialist companies, the group aims to become the pre-eminent provider of compelling and inspirational insights for the global business community. Kantar’s 27,000 employees work across 100 countries and the whole spectrum of research and consultancy disciplines, enabling the group to deliver business insights from every point of the consumer cycle. The group’s services are employed by over half of the Fortune 500 companies.

By Roland Banks

Roland Banks has been passionate about mobile technology for the past 20 years. He started his career at British Telecom's research division working on collaborative virtual reality environments, before becoming a video streaming specialist at 3 UK where he helped launch some of the world's first mobile video services. More recently he enjoys writing about his obsession, and developing software that helps mobile operators analyse their subscriber data.

Roland has lived in Asia for the past 5 years, and tries to indulge his other passion for riding motorcycles whenever possible.

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