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Nokia Spurs Windows Phone Gains In Europe

Proliferation of affordable Nokia smartphones has boosted Windows Phone's adoption to nearly 10% in Europe.

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The Nokia Lumia 520 went on sale in May. It is one of the least expensive Windows Phone devices on the market. In the U.S., it costs $150 without a contract. It goes for a similar price in European countries. It is this little device that has pushed Windows Phone's adoption to a record 9.2% across the five largest markets in Europe.

The latest data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech notes that Windows Phone is nearing the 10% mark in Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Spain combined. In France and Great Britain, Windows Phone's growth hit double digits -- 10.8% and 12%, respectively -- in the three-month period ending Aug. 13. This marks the first time Windows Phone has ever breached the double digit mark in a major market.

"Windows Phone's latest wave of growth is being driven by Nokia's expansion into the low- and mid-range market with the Lumia 520 and 620 handsets," said Dominic Sunnebo, strategic insight director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech. "These models are hitting the sweet spot with 16- to 24-year-olds and 35- to 49-year-olds, two key groups that look for a balance of price and functionality in their smartphone."

The Lumia 520 has experienced brisk sales in the U.S. It is offered by T-Mobile. Sales of Nokia's premiere devices, such as the Lumia 1020 and Lumia 925, aren't as strong as that of the 520 largely due to their much higher cost. The 1020, for example, costs $749 without a contract. AT&T was selling it for $299 with a contract at launch, but later dropped the price to $199 with a contract.

[ What's next in smartphones? Read Samsung Plans Smartphone With Curved Screen. ]

Although Android remains Europe's most-adopted platform at 70.1%, Google's OS has seen little growth in recent months. Kantar blames Android's stalled growth in part on a slowdown of Samsung handset sales. "The manufacturer is now seeing its share of sales across the major European economies dip year-on-year as a sustained comeback from Sony, Nokia and LG begins to broaden the competitive landscape," noted Kantar's Sunnebo.

What of iOS? In Europe, it improved its market share to 16.1%. BlackBerry's share of the European smartphone market was more than halved, however, from 5.8% to 2.4%.

Despite Windows Phone's growth in Europe, it hasn't been as successful in the U.S. In the same three-month period, Android grabbed 55.1% of the U.S. smartphone market, while iOS nabbed 39.3%, Windows Phone grew to 3%, and BlackBerry dropped to 1.8%. In Japan, Android and iOS are neck-and-neck, with 47.4% and 48.6%, respectively. Together, they hold 96% of the smartphone market, leaving little room for BlackBerry and Windows Phone. Kantar expects iOS adoption to surge, however, now that Japan's largest network operator, NTT DoCoMo, is selling the iPhone.

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