Kantar Worldpanel Comtech released its most recent stats on handset sales over a 12-week period ending on December 23, 2012. The company's information, filled with a few surprises, singles out Android phones, led by Samsung, as the overall winner of the holiday sales period, while Apple's iPhone managed to pull ahead of other manufacturers in the U.S. and Japan.
Since Android has enjoyed the top place in the smartphone market worldwide for a while now, these most recent figures saw the OS consolidating its lead, accounting for more than half of all smartphone sales during the 12-week pre-holiday period. Interestingly, in some markets, namely Spain, Google's OS boasted a very strong lead, making up nearly 87 percent of all smartphone sales. Similarly, in China, Android made up nearly three quarters of smartphone sales.
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The top manufacturer of course continues to be Samsung, which accounted for 43 percent of handset sales in the top five markets in Europe — UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain — as well as 27 percent in the U.S., 32 percent in Australia, and 23 percent in Urban China. The Korean manufacturer only made up six percent of sales in Japan.
The iPhone, on the other hand, accounted for 66 percent of smartphone sales in Japan and 51.2 percent in the U.S., led largely by the iPhone 5.
According to Kantar, Android could soon hit a point of market saturation, which could mean either overall saturation — with few people buying smartphones in general — or Android-specific saturation. The latter could be good news for other operating systems as people look for the next big thing, but Kantar says the former is more likely.
Speaking of other mobile operating systems, Microsoft's Windows Phone was still struggling during this period in key markets, namely the U.S. and China, but did see some modest growth in Europe due to Nokia's strength in the market. Even still, overall Windows Phones accounted for only 5.4 percent of sales in the region.
Edited by Brooke Neuman