New figures from Kantar Worldpanel have revealed a stunning slide in Apple's market share of the smartphone market with European consumers in particular showing a sharp swing in preferences from the iPhone to Android-based devices.
The figures paint a grim picture for Apple with Android climbing from 10.7 per cent market share in the UK from June 2010 to nearly half of the market, 45.2 per cent, in June of 2011. iOS slide from 30.6 per cent down to 18.3 per cent. Kantar Worldpanel figures paint a similar picture for Germany and France while the iPhone fared better in Italy.
The situation in the giant American market is better for the iPhone in some respects. iOS share of smartphones climbed from 21.1 per cent to 28.7 per cent throughout the year. However BlackBerry marker RIM and Nokia's aging Symbian platform all be exited the market, leaving Android to gobble up an astonishing 57 per cent of the North American market.
Yet despite the figures, Kantar global consumer director Dominic Sunnebo said: "We are yet to see any real signs of consumers switching between Android and Apple. Our data shows that Apple and Android’s customers are intensely loyal when choosing their upgrade."
Therefore Apple's market share pasting seems to be as a result of the growth of the smartphone market at large where Android has been more successful at grabbing new smartphone owners. To illustrate the point, Kantar said that in the UK 74.3 per cent of Android smartphone sales came from those that previously didn't own a smartphone at all, only 1.4 per cent came from owners of iPhones.
"A concern for brands targeting the lower end of the market is that once consumers have tried a smartphone they are prepared to spend more on their next device and could turn to other brands," said Sunnebo.
In other words the new wave of smartphone owners, having gained a taste for the features of mobile computing, may choose a higher end model next time around. Yet with Kantar suggesting that operating system loyalty plays a major factor in such a choice, Apple would seem to have an uphill battle.
Rumours circulated in February that Apple is planning a cheaper iPhone. Had such a device been available sooner it may have helped stave off the spectacular fall in market share. Now the question remains whether the yet-to-arrive cheaper iPhone will be too late to persuade Android users to make the switch.