Android gains UK smartphone market share

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Google’s Android operating system for smartphones extended its sales lead over Apple’s iOS in the 12 week period to 19 February 2012, according to the latest market snapshot from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.

The release of the iPhone 4S closed the gap between the two OSs in the run-up to Christmas, but Android has opened up a comfortable lead over its nearest rival since Kantar Worldpanel ComTech last conducted its analysis of the market in December last year.

Android-powered handsets accounted for 48.5% of the smartphone market during the study period, after its sales were dented when the 4S hit the shelves in the final quarter of 2011. The Google-designed operating system has seen its market share increase from 37.8% just one year ago. Android has carved out its impressive market share since launching from a standing start in 2008.

Year-on-year, the next biggest winner in terms of market share was Apple, with iOS’s share of UK sales up by 6% to 28.7%. The launch of the iPhone 4S had pushed the California-based manufacturer’s operating system to just below 35% of the market in the run-up to the festive season, but sales have fallen back.

Overall, smartphone handsets accounted for 73.2% of all mobile devices sold in the UK over the study period. However, some survey data suggested that growth in the sector could be in decline. Just over half (51.6%) of people who bought a smartphone during the study period already owned one, suggesting the pool of feature phone users switching to smartphones could be decreasing.

The research also revealed that the Windows Phone 7 platform outperformed Nokia’s ancient Symbian OS for the first time. Nokia and Microsoft’s big push of the Lumia line of devices helped boost WP7 to a 2.5% share of the UK market, slightly ahead of Symbian which languished on 2.4%. The Nokia Lumia 800 accounted for 87% of all WP7-based phone sales in the UK, making a huge contribution to the 2% uplift in sales year-on-year.
Kantar also discovered that smartphone users are becoming increasingly pleased with their devices. When asked how satisfied they were with their handsets, the average smartphone user awarded their device 7.9 out of 10, with one being very dissatisfied and 10 being very satisfied. The typical feature phone owner only awarded their mobile 6.9 out of 10.

Apple customers proved to be the most satisfied with their choice of device, with the typical iPhone user giving their handset 8.8 out of 10. Samsung devotees could only manage an average of 8.0, while HTC handset owners mustered only 7.6.

Smartphone owners were shown to be fairly promiscuous when it comes to OS loyalty, with 54.1% of those who bought a new device changing platform.

This post was written by Simon who compares iPhone contracts at Best Mobile Contracts, a leading mobile phone comparison website in the UK.