Wednesday, 21 October 2020 13:04

Smaller screens and 5G are 'next smartphone battleground' as iOS grows but Android dominates

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The latest stats on OS marketshare from Kantar to the end of Q3 2020 are in, showing iOS has grown everywhere except the Germany, Japan and China, although Android is still dominant with "mid-tier manufacturers and devices driving consumer purchasing decisions during COVID-19, including migration to online buying".

Kantar has revealed its smartphone OS data for the third quarter of 2020, and as you might have imagined, the results show that "as consumers become more aware of how they are being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and businesses start to reopen, there has been an increase in smartphone volume sales in EU5, USA and Australia by at least 4.4% vs the second quarter 2020, while sales in China and Japan declined, with at least 1 in 5 smartphones purchased being a mid-tier model".

Tamsim Timpson, the Strategic Insight Director at Kantar's ComTech Asia Worldpanel Division shared the specific Australian data, with global data to follow a few paragraphs down.

"Unsurprisingly," reports Timpson, "smartphone purchasing for the 3 m/e Sep 2020 shows a decline of -10% compared to the same period a year ago. OS shares are relatively flat YoY, with iOS growing marginally from 39.6% to 40.7%, whilst Android declines slightly by -0.7ppts to 59.3%. However, purchasing has seen a welcome increase of +14% compared to the 3 m/e Jun 2020 period and, whilst both platforms have enjoyed sales growth, Android outperforms iOS with an increase of +15% vs +12% for iOS".

Australian iPhone data:

"The iPhone 11 maintains its position as the top-selling device for another quarter, accounting for 9.5% share of the market, or 17% share with the Pro and Pro Max variants included. Almost 1 in 5 iPhone purchases this quarter are the 2020 iPhone SE, putting this model firmly in second place with a share of 7.5%.

"Whilst the iPhone 11 series generally attracts repeat Apple buyers (95% previously owned another iPhone), the 2020 SE has been relatively stronger from an acquisition point of view, with 17% of buyers switching from another brand and, whilst Samsung is an important source of acquisition for this device, the majority of buyers previously held a ‘legacy-branded’ device such as Sony or HTC and bought due to a deteriorating performance from their previous phone and had heard good things about the more affordable iPhone SE", Timpson continued.

Australian Android data:

"Within Android, Samsung share declines by 1ppt YoY to 33.2% although enjoys a sharp increase on the Q2 20 period, up from 30.7%. Collectively, all variants of the Galaxy S20 make up 8.4% of purchasing in the quarter, with the 5G devices taking the lion’s share. 81% of Galaxy S20 buyers upgraded from another Samsung handset, with 7% switching from Apple although churn from Apple rises to 10% among buyers of the S20 5G and S20 Ultra 5G – Samsung 5G devices have also been relatively successful in acquiring Huawei customers.

"Among all smartphones purchased in the last 3 months, 8.1% have 5G capability and 91% of those are Samsung, with OPPO accounting for almost 6%. However, of the 581k smartphone owners intending to upgrade to a 5G handset in the next 6 months, 55% currently own an iPhone so these shares will change dramatically with the release of the iPhone 12 devices.

OPPO and Nokia doing well in Australia, Huawei declines:

"In a market which is in decline YoY, OPPO bucks the trend, showing sales growth of +20% in the 3m/e Sep 2020 vs the same period in 2019, with share up from 5.8% to 7.7%. Recent launches of the Find X2 series are helping OPPO to make some inroads into the higher end of the market although its strong YoY performance is undoubtedly helped by its strength in the mid tier ($301-$800) which is the only price bracket to show any YoY sales growth, up by +31% and market share growing to 38% at the expense of all other price bands.

"Mirroring the global trend, Huawei share continues its downward trend to 2.6% in the latest period, having been overtaken by Nokia whose share increases to 3.5% and, similar to OPPO, experiences a YoY volume increase of +45% with a particular focus on the low price tier up to $300".

So, what is the global data that Kantar is sharing?

Jennifer Chan, Insight Director at Kantar, Worldpanel Division commented: “In Q3 2020 iOS grew by +6% points YoY and Android grew in China (+5.0% pts.) and Japan (+3.7% pts.). In all other reported markets OS shares are stable. However, beneath the surface of stability, while iPhone holds flat, shares among Android brands are shifting.

"Mid-tier manufacturers Xiaomi and Oppo are gaining in EU5 markets and Japan while Huawei declines YoY. That said, Huawei continues to experience strong growth locally in China by 5.7% pts. Samsung too, has not escaped the growing popularity of Xiaomi and Oppo, gaining share only in Japan (+5.4% pts.). Mid-tier smartphones also continue to attract consumers YoY. In the latest quarter across all reported markets, the iPhone SE, Samsung A series and/or Xiaomi all feature in the top 5.

"Online sales shares continue to grow YoY across all markets, except in China where this channel is flat. Although, in recent months online sales shares of smartphones in France, Germany, Italy and China are starting to come back down to pre-COVID levels. Nonetheless, ecommerce is an important channel and is here to stay; in Great Britain, Spain, Japan, Australia and the US, where online shares in the month of September 2020 remain higher than pre-COVID (February 2020). Therefore, a strong online presence and positive customer experience through this channel is critical now and in the future".

Chan continued: “with many announcements and upcoming releases, such as the Samsung S20 FE, Google Pixel 5 and the launch of iPhone 12 flagship range, Q4 2020 is set to be a very exciting quarter.

“Apple’s offering of 4 models in this year’s line-up is a very interesting strategy, particularly in the premium-tier price range (one tier below super-premium) with iPhone 12 mini. Unlike previous flagships, iPhone 12 mini gives customers all of the latest specifications and 5G capability, but in a smaller form factor at lower cost, in-line with many areas of market growth. While share growth over the last couple of years has been for larger screen sizes, Apple is tackling both ends of the spectrum with this launch, as at least a third of smartphones owned in all markets except China have a screen size less than 5.5” and over 12% of buyers chose their model specifically for “how it fits in my hand/pocket," added Chan.

As more 5G-enabled devices launch, Kantar said “5G capability” as a reason for choosing specific models bought, although still small relative to other drivers, has increased across all reported markets since Q4 2019, particularly in China increasing by 23% pts. Among customers who plan to purchase a smartphone in the next 6 months, at least 45% across all markets intend to buy 5G; the highest being in China at 89% followed by the US at 69%. Commercially, the benefits of 5G are being marketed as delivering high speeds and uninterrupted connectivity to support activities such as gaming, streaming video on demand and video calling.

Chan continued: “5G can offer support to improve consumer experiences in the day-to-day activities they use their smartphones for. That said, how consumers value this is an area we will understand better as the market evolves. In the latest quarter, based on how smartphone owners used their devices daily to every few days, we observed increased usage of GPS QoQ in EU5, Japan and China as countries slowly started to open up more businesses and relaxed lockdown rules. In the last month, the proportion of consumers using their smartphone for streaming video services increased YoY (except in Spain and Japan), at least 1 in 3 are playing games and 1 in 5 have streamed music from their smartphone.

Here are the charts Kantar has shared with all the relevant figures:


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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