Blog Post

Crunch Time For Apple's Rivals: iPhone Sales In UK Grew Again In October

Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) acolytes will probably be saying “told you so” when they hear of this: sales of the iPhone, which had been in decline in the last several months, turned around and grew in the month of October, thanks to the introduction of the newest model, the iPhone 4S.

The news comes as we enter the crucial holiday sales period when handset makers and retailers are pulling out all stops to attract buyers in the month leading up to the new year.

According to figures from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, a division of WPP that provides continuous research on the state of consumer behaviour in the technology industry, found that in the month of October in the UK, Apple’s iPhone 4S made up a whopping 42.8 percent of all smartphone sales.

This means that in the last 12 weeks, Apple’s share of sales in the smartphone market has climbed up to 27.8 percent compared to 25 percent for the same period a year ago. Android remains in the lead, and with an even bigger margin than before: it currently has a 46 percent share of the market compared to 34.2 percent a year ago. (It took 35 percent of all sales in the month of October.)

We have contacted Kantar to get equivalent figures for other markets like the U.S. and will update this post as we learn more.

With Symbian accounting for only 3.9 percent of sales in the UK in the last 12 weeks, it will be interesting to see what kind of an impact Nokia’s first Windows Phone will have in the current quarter: the device only started to sell in November but there have been reports from retailers and Nokia (NYSE: NOK) itself that sales have been brisk, and the best for a Nokia smartphone in recent history.

Kantar notes that a large part — 75 percent — of the consumers buying the 4S version of the iPhone were previous iPhone owners, indicating that for Apple at least at the moment it’s a question of loyal users rather than attracting new buyers with features such as the Siri “voice assistant”, which only works on that model of the iPhone. Of those loyal Apple buyers, some 14 percent already owned an iPhone 4 rather than one of the older iPhone 3G or 3GS models.

Smartphones accounted for 69.8 percent of all mobile sales — this means that services like mobile advertising and mobile content, which in many cases have remained niche businesses, are moving ever-closer to mass-market audience bases. Altogether some 44.8 percent of UK consumers now own a smartphone. But as analyst Dominic Sunnebo notes, that leaves some 29 million adults without advance mobile devices: an opportunity still for Nokia, RIM (NSDQ: RIMM) and the rest.