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iPhone Market Share Grows In UK, Falters Elsewhere

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Apple enjoys iPhone 4S sales boost in the UK but is not doing so well in continental Europe and Asia

Apple’s smartphones are increasing in popularity in the UK but enjoying variable success in Europe and South Korea.

Android has made significant gains in territories where the iPhone’s relatively high cost and absence of compelling features have proved prohibitive, while BlackBerry and Symbian have seen their market share plummet.

Two-horse race

The iPhone had been losing ground in the UK prior to the release of the iPhone 4S in October, but the new version of Apple’s flagship smartphone increased its market share from 21.4 percent in November 2010 to 30.9 percent this year, according to research from analysts Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.

Android devices also performed well, with Google’s mobile operating system securing control of 46.6 percent of the market compared to 34.8 percent last year.

The gains enjoyed by the two platforms were at the expense of RIM’s BlackBerry phones, whose share dropped from 22.2 percent to 16.9 percent, and Symbian, whose share of the market suffered a freefall from 17.1 percent to just 3.2 percent.

Windows Phone experienced a minor increase from 0.4 percent to 1.2 percent, but the Nokia Lumia 800, Nokia’s first Windows Phone to be released following the agreement of a strategic partnership between the company and Microsoft, was released just two weeks before the figures were compiled.

On the continent

Android enjoyed more success in mainland Europe as consumers opted for cheaper phones. Android not only fed off the carcass of Symbian, but also eroded some of Apple’s business as its share skyrocketed from 17.1 percent to 61 percent, while the iPhone’s dropped from 27.1 percent to 21.9 percent.

Similar trends were observed in Italy, France and Spain, while there was finally some good news for beleaguered BlackBerry manufacturer RIM, whose smartphones benefited from being cheaper than the iPhone in mainland Europe.

“In Great Britain, the US and Australia, Apple’s new iPhone continues to fly off the shelf in the run up the Christmas, reversing the share losses seen during much of 2011,” commented Dominic Sunnebo of Kantar Worldpanel ComTech. “However, this trend is far from universal, with sales in Germany and France somewhat underwhelming.”

Lack of compelling features

In South Korea, the home of Apple’s largest competitor Samsung, the iPhone also suffered a lukewarm response due to the lack of compelling features, a lack of support for Long Term Evolution (LTE), and hardware problems.

Koreans have been put off by hardware problems such as a bug which drains battery life (even though Apple claims to have addressed this in a recent iOS update), complaints of noises during calls and video playback, and the absence of support for the Korean language have also been factors.

Price is also a factor and resellers have slashed the cost from the recommended retail price, which is equivalent to £449 (the UK price), to £320 as they start to worry about meeting Apple’s sales quotas of 600,000 sales each before the year end.

Apple suffered from no such problems in its homeland, where it was estimated that four million iPhone 4S units were sold during the first weekend of sale.