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iPhone 5c, 5s create Apple bounce, but Android still rules at 71 percent: Kantar

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It's Monday, Dec. 2, 2013 -- the beginning of December -- which means it's time for an update and a new Kantar Worldpanel Comtech smartphone sales report. 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 Oct. 31.

The report indicated that while Apple's new iPhone 5s and 5c smartphones gave the company a bounce worldwide, it wasn't enough to overtake Android. This differs from 2012's iPhone 5 debut, which was strong enough to help Apple reach the top of U.S. smartphone sales, surpassing Android.

This year, Android held off Apple, with Apple at 40.8 percent for the latest three-month period while Android had close to 53 percent. Notably, though, taking a look at October alone, Apple had 52.8 percent of sales market share.

Kantar analyst Dominic Sunnebo wrote:

In almost all markets, the iPhone 5S and 5C releases have given iOS a significant bounce compared to the previous month. Generally, Apple's share of the market still remains lower than when the iPhone 5 was released, although this is not wholly unexpected as shoppers tend to react more positively to "full" releases than incremental improvements such as the 5s and 5c.

By an "incremental release," Sunnebo means iPhone releases such as the iPhone 4S, a minor change from the 4, or the iPhone 5S, a minor change from the iPhone 5.

Major upgrades such as the iPhone 4 vs the iPhone 3GS and the iPhone 5 vs. the iPhone 4S are, Sunnebo asserted, welcomed with much more open arms (and wallets).

It's not a universal maxim, though, that Android held off Apple during Kantar's latest 12-week window. While Android held a 71 percent sales market share globally, and Apple only 21 percent, in Japan, perhaps on the strength of NTT Docomo sales. Docomo is Japan's biggest mobile operator, but only now has begun selling the iPhone.

In addition, despite reports that the iPhone 5c is not selling in expected quantities (Apple is said to have cut production orders), it apparently garnering a decent market share among lower-income households in the U.S. This is, of course, what Apple was aiming for.

Sunnebo wrote:

The cheaper 5C appeals to a broader audience than Apple usually attracts. In the US, the biggest demand for these mid-end models is coming from lower income households. Some 42 percent of iPhone 5c owners earn less than $49,000 compared with just 21 percent for iPhone 5s.

The good news for Apple is that this wider appeal is attracting significant switching from competitors. 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.

One final point that Sunnebo made was the age range of buyers. 5c buyers are skewing older, with the average age being 38, vs. 34 for the iPhone 5s.

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