Kantar: Apple Back On Top As Bestselling Smartphone In The U.S.

Considering the staggering results reported by Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) last night, this should come as little surprise: the company’s iPhone is back on top as the bestselling smartphone in the U.S. Android has managed to hold on to its position in the UK but there, too, Apple massively increased its share of sales, according to data out today from WPP’s Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.

In the U.S. in the last 12 weeks, Apple’s iOS platform accounted for 44.9 percent of all smartphone sales, just edging out the collective power of Android, which took 44.8 percent of sales. In the UK, Android managed to hold on to its lead at 43.9 percent of all sales, while Apple took 34 percent of sales. In the rest of the markets surveyed by Kantar Worldpanel, Android also remained in the lead (see full table below).

But even with Android still at the top, Apple seems to be the one showing more momentum in the top markets, and Kantar’s analyst Dominic Sunnebo notes that iOS overall grew more on average across all the nine markets that it pinpoints as a sales barometer than Android did.

The UK now has a smartphone penetration of 48.9 percent, says Kantar Worldpanel. A corresponding figure was not provided for other markets surveyed.

Drilling down, Apple’s iOS grew its market share more than any other platform maker in both the U.S. and UK, with growth of 22.6 percent and 12 percent respectively. Android, however, continues to show the strongest momentum in other European markets like Germany, Italy and Spain. It also grew the most in Australia, a hotly contested market where Apple is currently battling it out against Samsung over patents and device injunctions.

In what might be worrying news ahead of Nokia’s quarterly results tomorrow, Windows Phone, Microsoft’s OS that is used in Nokia’s new range of smartphone devices, has not managed to break the two percent mark for sales in any single market surveyed by Kantar Worldpanel. The most popular countries for WP7 devices, says Kantar Worldpanel, were the U.S., where it took 1.9 percent of sales; and the UK where it accounted or 1.7 percent of sales.

In some markets, in fact, Microsoft’s old mobile OS, Windows Mobile, is still selling better than the new one. Such is the case in Germany, France and Spain.

BlackBerry: Interestingly, Sunnebo notes that RIM’s smartphone brand remains the “gifting” brand of choice, with 57 percent of all BlackBerry devices purchased in the quarter as gifts, with that number going up to 76 percent in December, with some 55 percent of recipients under the age of 16. That’s an interesting signal of how BlackBerry is already considered something of an entry-level smartphone (and perhaps a confirmation of new CEO Thorsten Heins’ contention that RIM (NSDQ: RIMM) does not have to ‘dumb down’ its line of devices to pick up new users.)

And while we’ve seen some attention in the last couple of days to what is happening in the Latin American and Brazil mobile markets — Apple hiring a new GM for the region, and Nokia (NYSE: NOK) claiming some kind of feature phone supremacy there with the sale of its 1.5 billionth feature phone in the region — Android, too, can lay claim to a strong position there: it took a 28 percent share in Brazil and a 20 percent share in Mexico. In Brazil, Symbian remained the strongest platform, while in Mexico, RIM overtook Symbian as the most popular platform, as Nokia’s older smartphone platform saw big declines in both countries.