Apple iPhone 5 Sales Help iOS Regain US Market Share

Android returns to No. 2 spot.

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iPhone 5
Apple sold a record 47.8 million iPhones and 22.9 million iPads in Q1 2013, which ended Dec. 29, 2012. Apple's iPhone - a device that's shifted the mobile and app worlds into overdrive.

A new report from Kantar Worldpanel, picked up by the British tech website MCV, claims that Apple’s (Nasdaq: AAPL) mobile operating system, iOS, was pushed back to the top of the food chain in the U.S. mobile marketplace last month thanks in large part to sales of the new iPhone 5 smartphone.

Over the period of 12 weeks ending Oct. 28, the report states, iOS commanded 48.1 percent of all U.S. smartphone sales. Smartphones using Google’s (Nasdaq: GOOG) Android mobile operating system claimed 46.7 percent.

A majority of Apple sales came from pre-existing customers. The report states that 62 percent of smartphone sales over the 12-week period were upgrades from previous iterations of the iPhone. And 92 percent of current iPhone owners surveyed said that they will stay with Apple’s flagship smartphone when they choose their next mobile device or upgrade.

Just 13 percent of new iPhone owners, meanwhile, switched from Android phones.

These figures illustrate Apple’s ability to develop a strong sense of customer loyalty and consumer affiliation to a strong brand, Kantar reasoned in its analysis of the data. This loyalty could ultimately serve Apple by drawing more consumers toward Apple’s ever-expanding cluster of iconic pieces of hardware.

“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,” Kantar’s global consumer insight director Dominic Sunnebo said in a statement. “While loyalty is clearly key, it is also important to make sure that new customers are attracted to your brand. With roughly 60% of US iPhone 5 sales coming from existing customers and 40% from new consumers, Apple is achieving this at the moment – a clear sign of the strength of the brand in the U.S. marketplace.” 

“The last time we saw iOS overtake Android in the U.S. was when the iPhone 4S was released and Apple managed to retain its lead for three consecutive periods,” Sunnebo added. “This time we predict that Apple will beat its previous high of 49.3 percent and achieve its highest ever share of the U.S. smartphone market within the next two periods.”

Despite the return-to-form for Apple, which has seen its stock dip into bearish territory in the months after it reached its historic peak in August, the news is less-than-rosy for the Cupertino, Calif.-based company in Europe. The report notes that Android still commands 81.7 percent of the market share in Spain and 73.9 percent in Germany. The U.K. market is closer to the U.S. than its neighbors, giving Android a 32.7 percent share.

“Germany remains a tough market for Apple with its share falling by 5.1 percent over the past year. The Samsung Galaxy S3 has taken almost a quarter of the country’s smartphone sales over the past 12 weeks to boost Android yet further,” Sunnebo said of the Apple’s struggles in Europe.

“In Italy, strong sales of the Nokia Lumia 610, the fourth best-selling handset over the past 12 weeks, and the Nokia Lumia 800, the seventh best-selling, have helped drive Windows’ share up to 11.7 percent -- the highest across Europe.”

Apple shares dipped around a percentage point during trading Tuesday morning, falling to $580.28 in late morning trading.

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