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Windows Phone picks up global momentum

Windows Phone is still increasing its market share, particularly in Europe.

The latest data from analyst group Kantar Worldpanel ComTech for the September quarter shows Windows Phone now makes up 10% of smartphone sales across the five major European markets (UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain). The data confirms gains made last quarter.

Android remains the dominant operating system across Europe with 71.9%, an increase of 4.2 percentage points over the same period last year. But Windows Phone, driven almost entirely by Nokia sales, continues to make rapid progress in Europe and has also shown signs of growth in emerging markets such as Latin America.

“With the market in developed countries so congested, it is emerging economies that now present manufacturers with the best opportunity for growth,” says Kantar’s Dominic Sunnebo. “Nokia dominated in Latin America for many years, and while its popularity declined with the fortunes of Symbian it now has an opportunity to regain the top-spot.

“Most consumers in Latin America still own a Nokia feature phone, so upgrading to an entry level Lumia is a logical next step. Price is the main barrier in developing markets and the budget Lumia 520 opens the door to smartphone ownership for many people.”

In the UK Windows Phone now accounts for 11.4% of the market. Android is still top with 58.4%, while BlackBerry now only has 3.1%. Apple’s iOS has dipped by one percentage point to 27.0%, although it is expected to strengthen at Christmas.

Sunnebo says August is traditionally a quiet month for Apple as consumers wait for the release of new models, but even strong sales of the iPhone 5S and 5C at the end of September did not make up for the lull. “The full impact of the new iPhones will be seen at Christmas when iOS is expected to bounce back strongly in Britain, the US and Australia.”

China is increasingly dominated by Android, where it accounts for 81.1% of the market. This is up 14.6 percentage points from last year. Domestic manufacturers made up 44% of smartphone sales in the latest period, compared to just 30% the previous year. Huawei, Xiaomi, Lenovo and Coolpad handsets are particularly popular outside of China’s largest cities and represent a more value-for-money option than global brands.

Chinese consumers are prepared to make a huge investment in their smartphone, with some spending up to 70% of their monthly salary on a new device. With such a high investment, Chinese consumers want to get the best value for money and are increasingly opting for a high-spec local brand over a low-spec global equivalent. The message for global manufacturers is clear Chinese consumers demand value, and overpriced entry-levels models no longer cut it against increasingly impressive local competition.

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Graeme Philipson

Graeme Philipson is senior associate editor at iTWire and editor of sister publication CommsWire. He is also founder and Research Director of Connection Research, a market research and analysis firm specialising in the convergence of sustainable, digital and environmental technologies. He has been in the high tech industry for more than 30 years, most of that time as a market researcher, analyst and journalist. He was founding editor of MIS magazine, and is a former editor of Computerworld Australia. He was a research director for Gartner Asia Pacific and research manager for the Yankee Group Australia. He was a long time IT columnist in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and is a recipient of the Kester Award for lifetime achievement in IT journalism.