Android smartphone market share continued to grow in end-of-year peak buying season

Smartphones running Apple's iOS operating system lead a couple of the world's markets – the USA and Japan – , but in most countries Android is well ahead, with its share continue to rise, according to figures for the last quarter of 2012.

The market survey, by Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, shows that while Apple has just over half of the US smartphone market by operating system, and a healthy 66.2% of the Japanese market, in other countries – notably Europe, Australia and China – Android OS phones are way ahead of Apple's products.

In the UK, 54.4% of smartphones sold in the 12 weeks up to Christmas ran Android, against the 32.4% of sales taken by iOS devices, compared to 43.9% and 34.1% in the same period in 2011. RIM's BlackBerry OS was in third place, with 6.5% of the market, and Windows took just under 6%.

Blackberry tops the present list

That could be explained by figures revealing a third of all handsets bought in December were bought as gifts, with the majority of recipients under 18, and 57% of them female. The BlackBerry 9320 was the most popular gift buy, followed by the Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 and then the Apple iPhone 4S.

More than a fifth of all smartphone gift purchases were through Tesco.

82% of phones bought in those 12 weeks were smartphones, bringing UK penetration to 61%.

In other European markets Android's lead over iOS is even more pronounced: in Germany it took a 66.6% market share against Apple's 24.7%, in France 58.7% against 25.6%, and in Spain a massive 86.4% against Apple's meagre 6.4%.

Spain loves Android

In fact, Spain is the most Android-friendly nation in the survey, even beating the urban areas of China, where it has a 72.5% market share against Apple's 21.9. Put the five main European markets together and Android has 61.1% of the smartphone market, and iOS just over a quarter.

And Windows phones, while having a slower take-off than we're sure Microsoft would have hoped – took 5.9% of the UK market and 13.9% in Italy.

While its share shows only marginal growth or actual drops in share in other territories, it seems to have given Nokia a boost.

The Finnish company took a 6.2% smartphone share in the UK, up 50% on its 2011 performance.

Of the other handset manufacturers, Samsung has a 35% share of the UK smartphone market, ahead of Apple on 32%, and while BlackBerry is seen as struggling, the popularity of the 9320 as a Christmas gift will have helped its figures.

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Andrew has written about audio and video products for the past 20+ years, and been a consumer journalist for more than 30 years, starting his career on camera magazines. Andrew has contributed to titles including What Hi-Fi?, GramophoneJazzwise and Hi-Fi CriticHi-Fi News & Record Review and Hi-Fi Choice. I’ve also written for a number of non-specialist and overseas magazines.