It's a new year, and a new month, and with that, Kantar Worldpanel Comtech released its latest smartphone sales report on Monday. The report provides a rolling 12-week look at how smartphones are selling in key markets.
Kantar's latest figures cover the 12 weeks that ended on Nov. 30, 2013.
In the three months ending November 2013, Android maintained its lead with over half of U.S. smartphone sales, at 50.3 percent. iOS followed with 43.1 percent of smartphone sales which, although an increase month-over-month, was down 9.9 percent year-over-year.
The report also indicated that while Apple's new iPhone 5s and 5c smartphones gave Apple a real boost, with its sales share continuing to grow month to month following the release of the company's 2013 models, its share of most major markets is lower than at the same time a year prior. Not only is iOS seeing continuing challenges from Android, Windows Phone appears to be finally making a move.
Windows Phone is the third largest mobile platform in the U.S, and had nearly 5 percent of smartphone sales in the three months ending November 2013. That is up 2.1 percent from the previous year. In Europe, where Windows Phone has done better due to legacy love of Nokia, the platform has 10.0 percent, more than double its sales share the year prior.
In terms of the U.S. specifically, Kantar Worldpanel ComTech Global Strategic Insight Director Dominic Sunnebo wrote,
The iPhone 5S and 5C were the two bestselling smartphones in the U.S for the 3 months ending November 2013. However, increased rivalry from Android brands and a resurgence of LG and Nokia, has made year-on-year share gains for Apple difficult. This is especially true on T-Mobile.
In Kantar's global report, Sunnebo reiterated:
While there’s no doubt that sales of the iPhone 5S and 5C have been strong, resurgent performances from LG, Sony and Nokia have made making year on year share gains increasingly challenging for Apple.
Notably, Sunnebo said, Windows Phone continues to lag in two key markets, China and the U.S. Windows Phone has a mere 4.7 percent in the US and 2.7 percent in China.
You don’t have to conquer China and the US to win in the smartphone market, but you do need success in one of them. At the moment there are few signs of progress in either country for Windows Phone and momentum needs to be made soon before OS loyalty severely limits the available market.
China is likely to be the easier and more rewarding target for Windows. After all, Nokia has a huge existing presence in the market, retains strong customer preference and can sell handsets at the right price to capture the huge numbers of people with relatively modest budgets. However, with Microsoft soon running the show it’s hard to imagine a change in strategic direction away from the US.
As with the previous Kantar period, Verizon Wireless maintained its U.S. smartphone sales lead, with just under a third of total sales (31.7 percent). AT&T, in second, had 28.3 percent of smartphone sales during the three month period. T-Mobile USA showed that its UnCarrier plans are making an impact, as it overtook Sprint as the third largest carrier with 13.3 percent. It was also the only major carrier to see growth year on year (up 6.3 percent).
This data derives from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech USA’s consumer panel, which the company says is the largest continuous consumer research mobile phone panel of its kind in the world. The panel conducts over 240,000 interviews annually in the U.S. alone.
Kantar's report focuses on the sales within a three month period rather than market share figures. Kantar says that such sales shares "exemplify more forward focused trends and should represent the market share for these brands in future."