Apple Smartphone Share Tops 50 Percent in U.S.

Apple’s rise in the U.S. has not been replicated in quite the same way across Europe, where Android still takes the lead.

Apple achieved its highest ever share in the U.S. smartphone market, 53.3 percent, in the latest 12 weeks (ending Nov. 25), with the release of the iPhone 5 helping to boost sales, according to the latest smartphone sales data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.

The report found that Apple arch rival Google and it’s Android-based handsets rule the roost in Europe, where Android smartphones constitute 61 percent of the overall market, up from 51.8 percent a year ago. Samsung continues to hold the number one smartphone manufacturer spot across the big five countries, with 44.3 percent share in the latest 12 weeks. Apple takes second place with 25.3 percent share while HTC, Sony and Nokia shares remain close in the chase for third position, according to the report.

Apple’s rise in the U.S. has not been replicated in quite the same way across Europe where Android still takes the lead, accounting for 73.9 percent of sales in Germany and 81.7 percent in Spain. However, Apple is now enjoying share gains in four of the five major European countries with a particularly strong performance in Britain where it holds a 32.7 percent share, according to a November report from Kantar.

Back in the U.S., Kantar global consumer insight director Dominic Sunnebo called Apple’s achievement a major milestone for the company, and noted further market share gains are expected to be made during December. Smartphone percentage penetration in Great Britain hit 60 percent in the latest period, with 83 percent of all mobile phone sales over the past 12 weeks being smartphones.

“Nokia continues to find it tough to attract younger consumers in Great Britain. Over the past six months, just 28 percent of Nokia Lumia 800 sales have come from under 35’s, compared with 42 percent of all smartphone sales,” Sunnebo said. “With the Nokia Lumia 920 being one of the few handsets available on EE 4G, new tariffs may help to change this by attracting early adopters in the coming months.”

The report also touched on Windows sales in the U.S., which remain subdued, and Nokia’s attempts to claw back some of its share in Great Britain through well priced Lumia 800 and 610 prepay deals. “The next period will prove crucial in revealing initial consumer reactions to the Nokia 920 and HTC Windows 8X devices,” Sunnebo said.

One area where Apple continues to dominate is the small-business mobile device market, where for the last three months of available data, September through November of this year, the iOS operating system was the clear leader in new device activations among SMBs with 68.2 percent of all mobile device activations, according to a Dec. 12 report from cloud services provider Intermedia.

Android handsets followed Apple with 25.1 percent, while BlackBerry devices, manufactured by Research in Motion (RIM) ranked third with 4.1 percent. Microsoft's Windows Mobile operating system landed in fourth place with 2.6 percent, according to the survey.