Strong Apple iPhone 5 sales knock Android off U.S. smartphone pedestal

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Strong iPhone 5 sales since its launch in September have pushed Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) iOS platform past Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android in the U.S. smartphone market, according to the latest stats from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.

The iOS platform secured 48.1 percent of U.S. smartphone sales compared with Android at 46.7 percent in the 12 weeks ending Oct. 28.

Dominic Sunnebo, global consumer insight director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, boldly predicted that Apple would blow past its previous market high of 49.3 percent and achieve its highest ever share of the U.S. smartphone market within the next two quarters.

A clear majority, 62 percent, of iPhone 5 sales in the U.S. have come from existing Apple owners upgrading to the new device, although Apple has also benefited from people switching from Android devices (13 percent) and Research in Motion's (NASDAQ: RIMM) BlackBerry devices (6 percent), as well as a small number of first time smartphone owners. A strong 92 percent of existing U.S. Apple owners said they would choose an iPhone the next time they upgrade. 

"Apple has always managed to maintain loyalty levels far above the competition, and this has clearly played a part in driving sales of its new device," Sunnebo observed. 

"While loyalty is clearly key, it is also important to make sure that new customers are attracted to your brand. With roughly 60 percent of US iPhone 5 sales coming from existing customers and 40 percent from new consumers, Apple is achieving this at the moment--a clear sign of the strength of the brand in the US marketplace," he added.

In addition to loyalty, strong sales could be attributed in part to new iPhone 5 features, such as a larger four-inch screen and 4G LTE capability.

While the iPhone 5 has helped iOS surpass Android in the U.S. market, this is not the case in Europe. Android accounted for 73.9 percent of smartphone sales in Germany and 81.7 percent of sales in Spain in the most recent period, according to Kantar Worldpanel ComTech's most recent figures.

Apple still has a long way to go to gain significant ground in Europe. Perhaps its U.S. success will convince more European smartphone users to drop Android and opt for Apple.

For more:
- see the Kantar Worldpanel ComTech release

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