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Smartphone OS shares shuffled

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Android is the clear winner in the market for smartphone operating systems, showing big year-on-year jumps across Western Europe and in the US.

Not so Symbian, which plunged over here - and has now nearly vanished on the other side of the pond.

The latest figures come from Kantar, a self-styled "inspiration supplier" which runs many of those surveys that host websites insist will help them make their pages better. Its numbers, therefore, only detail consumer sales, not purchases made by big business.

Symbian saw big market share dips across Europe between the week ending 13 June 2010 and the equivalent period this year, the weekend ing 12 June.

The UK is typical: Symbian's share fell from 32.7 per cent to 10.7 per cent.

In the US, never a Symbian stronghold, the OS's share fell from 10.1 per cent to 0.2 per cent in the same period.

Android's rise has been as big, if not bigger, than Symbian's fall, with year-on-year growth rates in the mid-to-upper 30s on both sides of the Atlantic.

RIM is down in most countries - from 32.5 per cent to 8.8 per cent in the US, for example - but in the UK it went the other way: its share of the UK market rose from 19.4 per cent to 22.3 per cent.

Likewise, iOS was down pretty much across the board: its share fell from 30.6 per cent to 18.3 per cent in the UK, though it rose from 21.1 per cent to 28.7 per cent in the US.

Of course, market share numbers only tell half the story: the overall growth in smartphone sales, not recorded by Kantar, is a key factor too. A reduced market share does not mean a given vendor is selling fewer phones, though that is almost certainly the case with Symbian and Nokia.

Android's success has come as it grabs the lion's share of new smartphone sales: 74.3 per cent of new Android users previously owned a voice phone, compared with only 1.4 per cent who previously owned an iPhone.

So Apple isn't really losing sales - but it's not exactly gaining them at the same rate as its key competitors, either.

According to Kantar, 63 per cent of Brits don't own a smartphone. That's the target market, and both Android and BlackBerry are doing well through the appeal of low prices.

Apple has a low-priced phone, the iPhone 3GS, but it's perceived as an old, previous-generation product, not a cheap, current-generation offering. In the UK at least, but undoubtedly elsewhere too, it won't expand its marketshare without a seemingly new low-cost handset.

Assuming, of course, it doesn't prefer to retain margin at the cost of market share. ®

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