Android Leads Smartphones Sales, iOS Share Slides: Kantar

Windows Phone, the third largest OS in the United States, sold nearly 5 percent of smartphones in the reported period, up 2.1 points from the previous year.

Google’s Android mobile platform maintained its lead of smartphone sales in the United States, capturing just more than half (50.3 percent) of the smartphone market in the three months ending November 2013, according to a report from research firm Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.

Apple’s iOS platform followed with 43.1 percent of smartphone sales, an increase month on month, but down 9.9 percent versus the same period a year ago. Windows Phone, the third largest OS in the United States, sold nearly 5 percent of smartphones in the three months ending November 2013, up 2.1 points from the previous year.

"The iPhone 5S and 5C were the two bestselling smartphones in the U.S for the three months ending November 2013," Dominic Sunnebo, global strategic insight director for Kantar, said in a statement. "However, increased rivalry from Android brands and a resurgence of LG and Nokia has made year-on-year share gains for Apple difficult. This is especially true on T-Mobile."

Among T-Mobile smartphone buyers in November 2013, 55 percent of those who purchased an LG and Nokia smartphone were first-time smartphone buyers, compared to just 39 percent of Apple customers. The company’s "un-carrier" strategy has been successful in luring new customers to purchase their first-ever smartphone.

T-Mobile, overtaking Sprint as the third largest carrier, had 13.3 percent of sales, and was the only major carrier to see growth year on year, with sales up 6.3 percent.

However, industry heavyweights Verizon (31.7 percent of sales) and AT&T, with 28.3 percent of smartphone sales, were the dominant players on the carrier side of the market.

T-Mobile has been taunting AT&T and threatening to steal its customers since John Legere was named CEO and T-Mobile relaunched itself as the "un-carrier" about a year ago. AT&T hit back earlier this month, offering T-Mobile customers up to $450 per line to switch to AT&T and trade in an eligible smartphone.

"First-time smartphone buyers remain a key demographic for carriers and brand alike. The lower end iPhone 5C represents an opportunity for Apple to attract these customers," Sunnebo continued. "Thus far the majority of 5C customers have come from other smartphone platforms, though if historical trends hold, the lower end model (historically the older iPhone model following the release of a new iPhone), should be able to attract this demographic with its lower price and comparable specs."

ComTech tracks mobile phone behavior and the customer journey, including purchasing of phones, mobile phone bills/airtime, and source of purchase and phone usage. This data is exclusively focused on the sales within the three-month period rather than market share figures.