Android Share Growth Continues in U.S., Europe, for Now: Study

That could change, though, as sales of Apple's cheaper iPhone 5se begin to show up in Q2 2016 after going on sale in March.

Kantar World Panel

Android smartphones continued to gain market share in the first quarter of 2016 in the United States, five key European countries and in China, compared to a year ago. What's more, the Android share growth in Europe for the period was the highest recorded there in more than two years.

The figures, released May 11 in a report by Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, show Android phones holding 65.5 percent of the U.S. market in the first quarter, an increase from 58.1 percent one year ago. Apple iOS smartphones made up 31.6 percent of the market in the first quarter, a drop from 36.5 percent one year ago. Windows phones captured 2.7 percent of the market in the first quarter, down from 4.3 percent one year ago. BlackBerry phones fell to 0.1 percent from 0.4 percent one year ago.

Android's recent market-share gains came at Apple's expense, Lauren Guenveur, a mobile analyst with Kantar Worldpanel, told eWEEK, but are even more significant compared to Windows Phone market share drops by percentage of sales in the EU5 countries.

In the combined EU5—Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain—Android smartphones made up 76.6 percent of first-quarter sales, up 7.1 percent from a year ago, according to the study. In the EU5, iOS share fell to 18.9 percent in the first quarter from 20.2 percent a year earlier. Windows Phone sales dropped 5 percentage points to 4.9 percent of overall smartphone sales in the region. About 6.6 percent of new Android customers switched from Windows Phones, compared to 3.3 percent who shifted from iOS phones.

In China, Android phone sales increased to 77.7 percent of the market in the first quarter, up from 71.5 percent a year earlier. Apple iOS phones made up 21.1 percent of the market, which fell from 26.5 percent a year ago, while Windows Phones came in at 0.8 percent of the market in the first quarter, down from 1.3 percent one year ago. BlackBerry handsets came in at 0 percent in the quarter, which was unchanged from a year ago. Sales of other brands of phones were 0.4 percent, down from 0.7 percent a year ago.

Android's gains in the United States came from increased sales by Android phone makers Samsung, Motorola and LG, the report states.

"Android has always been the larger ecosystem" for smartphones, said Guenveur, and the Android quarterly growth is even less surprising in light of Apple's recently reported sales declines in its flagship iPhone models.

On April 26, Apple reported a quarterly decline in revenue for the first time since 2003. Apple's second-quarter revenue fell 13 percent to $50.6 billion from $58 billion a year earlier. Net income in that interval fell to $10.5 billion from $13.6 billion as iPhone sales leveled off, ending Apple's 13-year record of uninterrupted sales growth.

Apple's latest iPhone 6 models went on sale last September. Apple reported sales of 51.2 million iPhones in the second quarter, down 18 percent from 61.2 million in the same quarter one year ago. The latest quarter's iPhone sales were down sharply—by 32 percent—from the 74.78 million sold in the first quarter of 2016. Revenue from iPhone sales dropped to $32.9 billion in the second quarter, down 18 percent from $40.3 billion one year ago.

Those Apple sales declines are showing up in the latest Kantar data, said Guenveur. "And other brands are kind of able to take advantage of that right now," she said. In the EU5, "Android is just in a better position to capture [Windows Phone] users than iOS is today."

Although the numbers show year-over-year gains for Android this month, that could change in the near future as sales are tallied and included in future Kantar reports for Apple's less-expensive iPhone 5se, which was released at the end of March, said Guenveur.

That's "the unexpected thing that could change that growth" for Android, she said. "In Apple's earnings call in April, [CEO Tim] Cook said they couldn't keep up with demand for the phone. We think that iOS will gain share once the iPhone SE is more available."