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Android still rules the world but Samsung faces a challenge in China

Android continued its overall global sales dominance in the final quarter of 2013 says a report on Monday from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech. The research firm noted rising Android(s goog) sales in a dozen markets but the growing numbers weren’t from all of the players you’d expect: Samsung lost share in Europe while its sales in China were essentially unchanged from the prior quarter.

Galaxy S 4 featured

Dominic Sunnebo, strategic insight director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech summed up the figures to illustrate the overall market as well as Apple’s(s aapl) figures:

“Android finished 2013 strongly, showing year-on-year share growth across 12 major global markets including Europe, USA, Latin America, China and Japan. Apple has lost share in most countries compared with this time last year, but importantly it has held strong shares in key markets including 43.9% in USA, 29.9% in Great Britain and 19.0% in China.”

If Samsung isn’t taking the lion’s share of sales in China, who is? Think of the locals such as ZTE, Huawei and Xiaomi. The latter native has already taken the smartphone sales crown from Samsung in China, having just entered the market in 2010. In addition to some inexpensive, lower-end phones, the company currently offers the Mi3 with choice of fast processor (Nvidia(s nvda) Tegra 4 or Qualcomm Snapdragon 800(s qcom)), 5-inch full HD display, 13 megapixel camera and large battery.

xiaomi m3

It’s worth noting that Hugo Barra, Google’s former VP of product management for Android, joined Xiaomi last August. Good timing for Barra, I’d say.

Kantar also noted Windows Phone growth with double-digit share in Europe. The firm suggests all of the “easy” sales there may be gone, however, as the market is only growing at three percent. There’s more opportunity in China and Latin America where Microsoft’s(s msft) platform faces bigger challenges from low-cost Android handsets.

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