Apple Inc. (AAPL) Strengthens Its Smartphone Foothold But Lost In US To Android In Q3 2014

The figures on smartphone sales data in the latest Kantar Report, for the third-quarter ending September 30, 2014, demonstrate Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL) owned Android’s dominance over the European Smartphone OS market with a 73.9% share. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS, or call it iPhone, retains the second-highest share with 15.4%, while Windows trail behind with 9.2% of the market. While Android successfully strengthen its presence in every country covered in the report, including US, China and Australia, its grew in the US – Apple’s home country – at the cost of iOS. Windows and other Operating Systems kept losing its markets to Android and iOS in the third quarter of the year also.

Apple iOS Gains Momentum Post launch of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

As predicted by industry pundits, Apple’s sales and revenue have been rejuvenated after the launch of the much-anticipated devices, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. The devices seem to have provided the much-needed footing to prevent the subsequent losses iOS has been facing in market share for the last two quarters. iOS has seen a year-on-year rise of 1.7% in its sales in the UK, after the sale of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus commenced on September 19th . This brings the total tally of iOS market share in the UK to 31%. According to the report, about 87% of the initial sales accounted for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, were attributed to existing iPhone owners. This suggests the significant brand loyalty, the company claims among its customers. Backing the claims are figures which record a year over year growth of one percent point in the brand loyalty of Apple from 79% to 80%.

“This is not surprising as consumers who already own Apple products tend to remain loyal and are keen to get their hands on new models. Drawing in customers who are switching from competitor brands is more likely to happen once offers and promotions on the new iPhones start to kick-in.” says Dominic Sunnebo, strategic insight director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.

With about 6% of the US smartphone population looking forward to upgrade their phones, 52% of the crowd has reported Apple as their preferred choice. Even among the 4% feature phone owners in the country upgrading to a smartphone for the first time, 19% of them are likely to choose Apple.

Apple iPhone sales share in Q3 2014

Though a decline of three percentage point from 36% to 33% has been recorded for Apple in the US, between the third quarter of 2013 and 2014, the demand for iPhone 6 has been quite high. Apple has also witnessed a rise in market share and devices sold post the launch of its new handsets in EU5 countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom), China and Australia. Among the EU5 nations the year-on-year percentage point rise in smartphone OS share post device launch, for September 2014 from September 2013, has been significant for UK (1.7), Spain (1.5) and Germany (1.1). In these nations the iPhone 6 has outnumbered the iPhone 6 Plus by five is to one ratio. Also the cumulative percent point rise of iOS in the EU5 nations in the tracked duration is 1.5 which is marginally ahead of Android’s 1.4 percent point.

Interestingly in Japan, which is another locus of demand for Apple devices, the trend of sales being a bit slack prior to release of new Apple iPhone continued as the country saw a decrease of 15.9 percentage point (year-over-year) in the smartphone OS share by the end of the third quarter. People’s reaction to the new devices will be much clearer in the next quarter as data for an entire month of sales comes in.

Recent trends suggest smartphone gifting is quite popular in the upcoming holiday season as it represented 23% of overall sales in Q3 2014. iPhone models have been in the top two smartphones people considered for gifting for every quarter in 2013 with over 45% of Apple sales in the last quarter ending September was for gifting. The increasing preference of the Chinese audience for bigger screen phones is a good indicator for the iPhone 6 Plus which comes with a screen size of 5.5 inches. About 16% of the smartphones sold in China in the last quarter comprised of 5.5 inch screen devices. The devices slated for release during the Chinese New Year could prove to be a Midas touch for the mobile industry giant as all the other competitors including Android is keeping a close watch over the region.

Google Android remains the ultimate winner though OEM’s indulge in neck to neck competition

Android maintains its death grip over the smartphone OS market in the US with a share as huge as 62%. The obvious reasons for such a high reach of Android is the number of OEM’s manufacturing Android based phones. So for Android more than the competition with other OS, what is more interesting is the change in semantics in its OEM’s. The share of big players like Samsung and HTC seemed to be declining whereas Motorola and Lenovo saw a rise of 7% and 11% in their share over the Android ecosystem in the Q3 of 2014, ending in September. The decline in the market share may be attributed to introduction of low priced devices like MOTO G and MOTO E (by Motorola) and the Xiaomi Redmi 1S and Redmi Note (by Xiaomi) which were targeted at the emerging markets. With so many players in the Android arena the competition has become intense and the pricing of devices has become very crucial for the success of any device launched.

Android smartphone sales share Q3 2014

With saturation in US smartphone market Google’s share seems to be on the rise (4.5 percentage point increase) as it is targeting the user base which has still not upgraded to a smartphone with its lucrative low priced high on quality devices. In the EU5 market also Android powered nearly 73.9% of the total smartphones sold in the region according to the Kantar report.

Time for Microsoft to re-think their strategy for Windows OS

Unlike Apple iOS, the Windows OS has many OEM’s developing handsets with their OS but still it is unable to create a sizable impact in the OS economy. Most of its share in the developed market is being gnawed away by Apple and in the emerging markets it is getting thwarted by Android. The share of Windows OS in EU5 region has dropped by 0.3 percentage points. In an exception, Italy witnessed a rise of 1.5 percentage point year-on-year rise, where Microsoft’s Windows OS claims a share of 15.2%.  It is a wake-up call for Microsoft as they need to focus on their game and come up with new strategy if they are willing to stay in the race and not suffer the fate same as Blackberry. The future of the recently launched Windows 10 OS will be decided when devices powered with the OS hit the market.

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