Android Sales Decline, iOS Gains During Holidays

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Smartphones running Google's Android operating system didn't exactly log stellar holiday sales, new data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech shows.

The research firm on Tuesday reported that Android sales dropped in the US, Great Britain, and France in the three-month period ending November 2016. At the same time, Apple's iOS "continued to make gains across most regions," Kantar said.

This marks the sixth consecutive period of decline for Android in the US, the firm said. Google's mobile OS now accounts for 55.3 percent of all smartphones sales, down from 60.4 percent a year earlier.

Apple, on the other hand, was sitting pretty at the beginning of the holiday period. Its iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, and iPhone 6s were the three most popular smartphones in the US, accounting for a combined 31.3 percent share of the market. In the midst of its exploding smartphone gaffe, Samsung had the fourth and fifth most popular handsets in the US—the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge—and captured 28.9 percent of smartphone sales.

Verizon helped peddle a lot of Apple and Samsung phones in the US, partly thanks to its attractive free phone promotion.

"Verizon booked nearly a quarter of all US smartphone sales during the Black Friday period, playing a vital role for all brands, including Apple and Samsung," Kantar Worldpanel ComTech Consumer Insight Director Lauren Guenveur said in a statement. "Buyers were motivated by Verizon's promotions on both Apple and Samsung's top phones, including offers of free iPhone 7, 7 Plus, and Galaxy S7 phones after trade-in and purchase requirements were met."

While overall Android sales decreased in the US over the past year, the new Pixel phone "made strong gains, rising to 1.3 percent of sales" during the period, Kantar reported.

Things played out differently in China, where Android continued to dominate the market, accounting for nearly 80 percent of all smartphone sales during the period, according to Kantar Worldpanel ComTech Asia's Strategic Insight Director Tamsin Timpson. Apple's iOS dropped to 19.9 percent share in urban China from 25.3 percent a year ago, but saw a 2.8 percentage point uptick over the previous three month period, thanks to iPhone 7 sales.

Meanwhile, across Europe's big five markets — Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain — both iOS and Android made gains. Android accounted for 72.4 percent of smartphone sales there during the period while iOS captured 24.6 percent — "a strong year-on-year uptick for both ecosystems," Kantar Worldpanel ComTech Europe Business Unit Director Dominic Sunnebo said.

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