If there’s one thing Apple likes doing, it is playing the long game. That has been the company’s entire history, putting out superior hardware and software products into a sea of global mediocrity, and waiting for people to figure it out for themselves.
This has worked spectacularly in the smartphone and tablet era, with Apple’s iOS devices vastly more desirable than similar devices from Android, Microsoft and others.
It has even worked in the computing arena, where Apple has long commanded both the desirability factor and, as with the iOS arena, the profit factor, too.
After all, it’s one thing to have a huge market share but only razor thin profitability, it’s another thing entirely to have a smaller yet immensely profitable market share that dovetails with the world’s richest selection of apps and accessories.
One example of this is how luxury watch maker TAG wants to make its own smartwatch in the wake of the Apple Watch, but can only deliver a rich smartwatch experience on the Android platform.
The the issue is that TAG owners are much more likely to own an iPhone than an Android, as I’ve seen reported online.
So, despite the last three or four years of endless hype over Android marketshare from the absurd sensationalists as clickbait farms such as ‘Business Insider’, the bludgeoning Blodgets of the world with Henry Blodget permanently banned (according to the US SEC) from involvement in the securities industry, we finally see an example of Apple’s long game at work - even though this means Apple still has a never ending job of continuing to do a great job ahead of it.
This can be clearly seen in Kantar’s stats, which show iOS ‘growing its market share in all surveyed countries except for Japan where performance in 2013 had been boosted by the addition of NTT DoCoMo as a carrier partner.’
Carolina Milansi, Kantar’s Chief of Research said: “While remaining the dominant global OS, Android’s market share dropped in most European markets and in the US where the decline was the first since September 2013.
"A decline in Android market share does not necessarily translate into bad news for all the ecosystem’s players. The choice of brands and devices within the ecosystem empowers consumers to drive different fortunes for the players in it.”
Kantar’s statement adds that: ‘In the three months ending November, Samsung particularly felt the pressure and saw its market share decline across Europe and in the US. By contrast Motorola’s share grew thanks to the refresh of the Moto X and Moto G offering good value for the money.’
Also, despite everything written above, it still pays to dig into the stats, as Kantar has done.
It notes that in Europe, which Kantar defines as the big five markets of Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Spain, ‘Android remained the dominant OS with a market share of 69.9%, although this is 3.2 percentage points lower than the same period in 2013.’
However, according to Dominic Sunnebo, Kantar’s Strategic Insight Director, “Great Britain saw the strongest share decline for Android at 6.7 percentage points.”
He notes that ‘Apple’s market share gain, triggered by the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus launch, continued into November when it reached 42.5% of British sales for a growth of 12.2 percentage points year-on-year mainly at the expense of Android’, and stated that: “The longer the new iPhone models are on the market the more their appeal will extend beyond Apple’s loyal customers. For now customer switching from Android to iOS remains stable at 18%”.
So, what about the US? Here, Apple ‘reached 47.4% of sales, 4.3 percentage points higher than the same period in 2013.’
Milanesi popped back up to add that: “The iPhone 6 was the best selling phone in the three months through November 2014, capturing 19% of smartphone sales.”
Top US phone carriers ‘Verizon and AT&T made up 57% of iOS sales while Verizon and T-Mobile were the top two carriers for Android accounting for 33.7% of all Android smartphones sold.’
Next comes ‘urban China’, where Kantar reports that ‘Android retained its leading position with a market share of 80.4%.’
Yet another Kantar director of strategic insight, this one being Tamsim Timpson stated that: “The wide variety of products offered by local manufacturers continues to push Android’s share.
“Xiaomi remains the biggest contributor to Android’s success as it averaged 30.2% of sales in the three months ending in November, an astonishing 18 percentage point rise over 2013”.
But Apple didn’t go away empty handed, instead seeing ‘a small increase of 1.1 percentage points’ in sales, which Kantar says ‘brought Apple’s share of the smartphone market in urban China to 18.1%.’
Apple’s main phone carrier partner here is China Mobile, China’s largest carrier, with sales via China Mobile ‘accounting for 63% of Apple’s overall sales.’
Kantar then concludes by noting that ‘Smartphone penetration reached 58% in the US and 65% across Europe’s big five economies.’
Milanesi gets to have the penultimate final word by stating that: “While die-hard featurephone owners state they are not planning to buy a smartphone in the next 12 months, they might not have a choice as vendors continue to transition their portfolio away from featurephones to smartphones.”
Kantar concludes by noting that: ’47% of featurephones owners looking to change their current device in the next six months in the US and 35% across Europe top five are not planning to upgrade to a smartphone.’