Windows Phone popularity grows in Europe as it cements its third place behind Android, iOS

Thanks to mid-range Nokias devices, Windows Phone has now well and truly become Europe's third smartphone ecosystem – albeit a long way behind the two leaders of the pack.
Written by Jo Best, Contributor

Windows Phone's share of the smartphone OS market is inching up, strengthening its position as third-place operating system, thanks to the continuing decline of BlackBerry and Symbian.

Across five of Europe's biggest markets — Great Britain, France, Spain, Italy, and Germany — Windows Phone's share of smartphone sales for the second quarter of this year stands at 6.9 percent, up around one-quarter on last year's figure of 4.7 percent, according to researcher Kantar WorldPanel.

The biggest year-on-year growth for Windows Phone was seen in the UK, where the OS almost doubled its market share from 4.5 percent in the second quarter of 2012 to 8.6 percent a year later. It's a more dramatic story in France: Windows Phone's market share more than quadrupled: from 2.3 percent in Q2 last year to nine percent in the second quarter of this year, Kantar said.

"While flagship Windows handsets such as the Nokia [Lumia] 925 and HTC 8X grab the headlines, it is the low and mid-range models, such as the Nokia Lumia 520 and 620, which are quietly driving its momentum," Kantar Worldpanel ComTech global strategic insight director Dominic Sunnebo said in a statement.

"It is vital for Windows to be seen as a mainstream alternative to Android and iOS rather than a niche platform. Selling large volumes of lower end smartphones is a good way of getting Windows seen in the hands of potential customers' friends and family, convincing them there isn’t a risk in choosing the operating system. The majority of people are trend-followers, not trend-setters, so Windows needs to get as many smartphones to market as quickly as possible."

There were losses elsewhere for Windows Phone, however. In Spain, its market share fell from 2.2 percent to 1.4 percent. It's still the third placed operator in the country though: BlackBerry's market share fell from 9.2 percent to 0.4 percent over the same period. Android is by far and away the market leader in the country, with 91 percent of smartphone sales for the most recent quarter, up from 82 percent a year ago.

BlackBerry is shedding sales share all over Europe: across the five markets, its slice of sales dropped from seven percent to 2.2 percent, according to Kantar's figures. 

Symbian's inevitable decline continued, with its share of sales dropping from 3.9 percent last year to 1.2 percent this year.  It's a figure that will continue to dwindle: Nokia announced recently it had manufactured its last Symbian phone and said in its latest set of financial results that its sales of Symbian devices were "practically zero".

Android remains the most popular OS in the five markets, with a share of around 70 percent, while iOS holds the second spot with 18.5 percent.

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