Apple's iOS was the leading smartphone platform in the U.S. in the fourth quarter. On the worldwide stage, Android is tops.
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Strong sales of Apple's iPhone at AT&T and Verizon Wireless during the fourth quarter of 2012 helped buoy iOS's share of the U.S. smartphone market, according to data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech. In a report published Tuesday, Kantar noted that Apple's smartphone platform earned just a hair more than half the U.S. market and two-thirds of the Japanese market during the closing months of 2012.
Backing up Kantar's numbers, Verizon reported its fourth-quarter earnings Tuesday. It revealed that of the 9.8 million smartphones sold during that period, 6.3 million were iPhones. Surprisingly, only half of the 6.3 million iPhones sold were the newer iPhone 5. The rest were a mix of older iPhones, including the iPhone 4S. Either way, iOS activations at Verizon Wireless during the fourth quarter were double the number of Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone activations combined.
Despite Apple's recent success in the United States, Google's Android platform is on top in nearly all other markets, including Britain, China, Spain, Australia and Germany.
"At the end of 2012, the global OS picture shows Android on top," said Dominic Sunnebo, global consumer insight director at Kantar. "But clearly the rate of growth it experienced over the past year is beginning to slow as easy wins from first-time smartphone buyers begin to reduce."
Some of those first-time buyers are choosing Microsoft's Windows Phone, noted Kantar. In the last year, Windows Phone's share in the United Kingdom rose from 2.8% to 5.9%. In Italy, Windows Phone's share rose from 2.8% to 13.9%. Nokia's line of Lumia Windows Phones has surged in some European markets, especially its home market of Finland. Windows Phone recently broke through the 20% mark in Finland. Microsoft's growth in other markets has not been so rosy.
"It has been far slower than Microsoft would have liked," continued Sunnebo, "but Windows Phone is now starting to gain respectable shares in a number of key European countries. However, its performance in the Chinese and U.S. markets remains underwhelming. As the two largest smartphone markets in the world, these remain key challenges for Microsoft to overcome during 2013."
Android's worldwide numbers put both iOS and Windows Phone to shame, however, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
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