Android(s goog) handsets as a group were outselling Apple’s iPhone(s aapl) for the past few months in the U.S., but Apple has regained the top spot. Smartphone sales data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech suggests that of all smartphones sold in the U.S. over the last 12 weeks, 48.1 percent were iPhones while 46.7 percent were Android phones. Apple can thank both the iPhone 5 and consumers who already owned a prior iPhone for the recent market share win. Overall, cumulative Android sales starting outpacing iPhones in 2010 although Apple often regains lost ground with new phone models.
By building a larger screened iPhone 5 that’s still compatible with all prior iOS apps, Apple was able to offer a better content consumption experience on the new model. Of the total iPhone purchases during the same three-month period, 62 percent were upgrades from an older iPhone, which lack the larger display and are also missing the fast LTE mobile broadband radio found in the new model.
But what’s happening with iPhone sales in the U.S. isn’t quite translating in other countries as noted by Kantar Worldpanel ComTech:
“Apple’s rise in the US has not been replicated in quite the same way across Europe where Android still takes the lead, accounting for 73.9% of sales in Germany and 81.7% in Spain. However, it is now enjoying share gains in four of the five major European countries with a particularly strong performance in Britain where it holds a 32.7% share. “
Regardless, this is good and somewhat expected news for Apple, which typically gets a strong sales bump with the release of a new iPhone model. How long will Apple keep the top spot as compared to Android in the U.S.? We’ll know over time, but the landscape is far more competitive than it was just a year or two ago. Google’s Jelly Bean software is vastly improved and the newest Android phones are gaining high-performance smartphone chips and 1080p displays that bring an immersive experience to handhelds.