Smartphones: Android Dominated Sales Last Quarter; UK Users Buy The Most


Given that today’s big mobile news in the UK is that BlackBerry devices (and specifically the free messaging service BlackBerry Messenger) had a big role to play in the riots that took place around London this weekend, the following comes as just one more reminder of how big smartphones are in the UK…

New data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech indicates that in the last three months, some 67 percent of all mobile phones sold in the UK were smartphones, making it the highest percentage of all the countries tracked by the market researchers.

Using data from the 12 weeks ending July 10, 2011, Kantar’s researchers note that devices such as those based on Android, Apple’s iOS and RIM (NSDQ: RIMM) account for more than half of all mobile phone sales in the U.S., UK, Australia and Germany. They project that Italy, Spain and France will also tip to a smartphone majority in sales by the next quarter. Other highlights:

Android rules. Android has run away with slightly more than half — 50.6 percent — of all smartphone sales across the 12 markets. The U.S. led the tables with Android accounting for 57 percent of all smartphone sales in the country. The UK ranked second with nearly 49 percent of all sales being for Android devices. iOS took slightly more than 25 percent of all sales — astounding considering that it is competing with effectively two models against the dozens built on Android.

The BlackBerry Message. Although today RIM achieved a bit of notoriety in the UK market, with several reports pegging communications among rioters directly to the free BBM service, it only saw a small increase in the number of sales in the UK in the last quarter, with a 19.2 percent share of all sales, a rise of 0.3 percent over the same period last year. Most other markets detailed by Kantar saw declines.

But today’s news, combined with statistics from the UK regulator released last week, seem to point to at least one group favoring RIM devices over others. Ofcom’s annual Communications Market Report indicated that BlackBerry devices were the most popular among teen users, beating out iPhones at 37 to 17 percent.

The subsidy effect. Kandar researcher Dominic Sunnebo notes that it might not just be the tech savvy that are driving smartphone sales, but also the price-conscious. It turns out that operators in the UK and Australia tend to offer mobile devices free when customers sign on for two-year deals. In the UK, it turns out that 61 percent of all smartphones are bundled “free” with contracts, while in Australia the proportion is 44 percent.

WP7. Not a great story so far for Microsoft’s new mobile OS, which has only picked up on average less than three percent of sales in any of the markets. The one exception is Germany, where it took up 7.1 percent of all sales. Nokia (NYSE: NOK) should take note for when it launches its new Windows Phone 7 devices. Symbian, meanwhile, saw declines in the UK, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, the U.S. and Australia.

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