iOS overtakes Android in US sales to reclaim top spot

The sales boost that the iPhone 6 has given Apple has allowed iOS sales to overtake Android in the US for the first time in three years.

The sales boost that the iPhone 6 has given Apple has allowed iOS sales to overtake Android in the US for the first time in three years.

According to data supplied by Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, the market research division of WPP, Apple managed to beat the collective might of the Android ecosystem, but only by a hair.

"In the US, Apple iOS overtook Android for the first time since this time in 2012, albeit by the slimmest 0.1 percent margin," wrote Carolina Milanesi, chief of research at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech. "While the success of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus is unprecedented, this quarter's performance also points to Apple having its strongest portfolio ever. With a range of devices available at different price points in both contract and pre-pay Apple was able to take advantage of a weaker Android offering at the premium end of the market."

The iPhone 6 was the best-selling smartphone over the holiday quarter in the US and was also the most popular smartphone to give as a gift. In second place was Samsung's Android-powered Galaxy S5.

Across the pond in Europe, Android's share took a hit by 3.8 percentage points year-on-year, falling to 66.1 percent while iOS saw a rise by 6.2 percentage points. Much of this driven by the UK market which saw iOS increase its share of sales by 13.1 percentage points compared to this time last year, while Samsung, LG and Sony all lost market share both year over year and over the previous quarter.

"Italy was the only European market where Android grew," said Dominic Sunnebo, strategic insight director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech Europe. "Considering the strong pre-pay market and the wider direct channel it is not a surprise that Android products - with their value for money proposition - continue to appeal to Italian consumers."

The expanding Chinese markets also helped Apple.

"In Urban China, Apple iOS grew share year-on-year at the expense of Android," wrote Tamsin Timpson, strategic insight director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech Asia. "While Xiaomi remained the bestselling brand in the latest period, Apple was able to close the gap slightly, growing its share to 21.5% from 19% last year."

Almost a quarter of Chinese consumers who bought an iPhone in the past three months were buying their first smartphone, compared to 16.5 percent for the same period in 2013.

What about Windows Phone? According to the Kantar report, Windows Phone had seen some success across Europe in 2013 but during this latest period recorded only minimal growth in France and Germany.

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