iPhone strong in Britain, but underwhelming in rest of Europe

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Apple’s iPhone 4S has propelled Cupertino’s smartphone share back to growth in many markets, including Britain, according to new data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech released Thursday. But Apple’s latest smartphone isn’t leading to runaway success everywhere.

In other parts of Europe, including France, Germany, Italy and Spain, the iPhone 4S hasn’t stopped the steady decline of Apple’s smartphone market share. Google’s Android platform continues to outgrow Apple’s in those markets, something Kantar Worldpanel ComTech¬†Global Consumer Insights Director Dominic Sunnebo says could be due to increased “price sensitivity” in European countries.

Europeans, especially those tied to the Euro, might be more skittish than most about paying for an expensive new iPhone, according to Sunnebo. Economists predict the Euro zone group of countries are on track for another recession following a period of brief recovery. Android, which grew its share in the countries mentioned above where Apple’s share slipped, is available on a much wider variety of devices, many of which are available at much lower price points than the iPhone 4S.

Apple’s share in the U.S. rose to 36 percent in the most recent quarter, up from 25 percent during the same time last year according to Kantar’s numbers. In Britain, its share was up from 21 to 31 percent year over year. But in France, its chunk of the market slid from 29 to 20 percent, and in Germany, it was down to 22 from 27 percent compared to the year-ago period.

Low-cost offerings like the iPhone 3GS, which Apple kept on market when it introduced the iPhone 4S, might help Apple perform better than it would otherwise during an economic downturn. But judging by this news out of Europe, it might not be enough in the face of multiple low-cost Android options. Despite troubles with various euro zone economies, Europe is one of the fastest growing smartphone markets in the world, so Apple’s ability to succeed there is definitely worth keeping an eye on.

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