Apple's iPhone 5s is proving to be a hit with UK consumers, at least compared to the cheaper iPhone 5c, but Apple's overall share of sales in the country is still less than it was a year ago.
That's according to new figures based on Kantar World Panel ComTech's consumer survey data for sales during the three months to the end of October.
Britain is a bright spot for Apple's iPhone 5s/5c release in otherwise tough conditions in Europe for Apple.
Despite record launch sales reaching nine million for the two models this September, Apple's share of quarterly smartphone sales continues to slide in Europe's big five — Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. A year ago iOS made up 20 percent of sales, which has fallen to 15.8 percent today, according to Kantar, leaving Windows Phone a bigger seller in Italy and about to overtake iOS in France and Spain.
Apple's falling share contrasts to gains over the year by Android and Windows Phone, which are up around five percentage points each to 70.9 percent and 10.2 percent respectively across Europe's big five.
Even in the UK, where Apple has its largest retail store count in Europe, the iOS share of sales has declined from 32.7 percent a year ago to 28.7 percent today.
While iPhone 5s sales outstrip 5c in the UK, Kantar consumer insights director Dominic Sunnebo noted that the iPhone 5c is helping draw new consumers in the US from other brands.
"Almost half of iPhone 5c owners switched from competitor brands, particularly Samsung and LG, compared with 80 percent of 5s owners who upgraded from a previous iPhone model," Sunnebo wrote.
In the case of the Nokia Lumia-dominated sales of Windows Phone devices it's the cheaper devices such as Nokia's Lumia 520 and 620 driving the platform's rise over the past year.
"In Britain, almost three quarters of Nokia Lumia sales in the latest period were low-end devices such as the Lumia 520 and 620 – a pattern that is similar across other EU markets," Sunnebo noted.
Windows Phone made up 11.9 percent of smartphone sales in the UK, up from 4.6 percent a year ago, according to Kantar. In France, Windows Phone 12.5 percent share of sales is only a whisker off iOS, which accounted for 15.9 percent of sales (down from 19.5 percent a year ago), while in Italy, Windows Phone's 16.1 percent share has already eclipsed the iOS share of 10.1 percent.
The issue that may be helping Windows Phone and hurting Apple in Europe are the lower carrier subsidies available to consumers, particularly Germany and Italy, according to Sunnebo.