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Microsoft has been gobbling up market share in Europe, with nearly one in eight phones in the UK now running Windows Phone and one in ten in France.

"Windows Phone's latest wave of growth is being driven by Nokia's expansion into the low and mid range market with the Lumia 520 and 620 handsets," said Dominic Sunnebo, strategic insight director at analysts Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.

"These models are hitting the sweet spot with 16 to 24 year-olds and 35 to 49 year-olds, two key groups that look for a balance of price and functionality in their smartphone."

The latest figures from the analyst's report show that in the five key European markets – the UK, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain – Microsoft has a 9.2 per cent market share, and is within a single percentage point of overtaking Apple's iOS in Germany; Teutonic buyers typically prefer open source mobile operating systems.

If Phone 8 was going to show growth anywhere, it was going to be Europe that saw it first – Nokia smartphone sales have traditionally been strongest in Europe and it's still a familiar brand, and Windows Phone is also doing well in Eastern Europe and Russia.

But Nokia must be hoping that it can start tempting users to its more expensive kit if the Finnish phonemeisters are going to start making money for their new paymasters in Redmond. Selling cheap is a good way to build market presence, but sooner or later the bills have to be paid.

Android is still the top dog in Europe, with a little over 70 per cent of the market sewn up. But Sunnebo warned that the Chocolate Factory's OS is running out of growth room in these developed markets.

"Android's growth has been spearheaded by Samsung, but the manufacturer is now seeing its share of sales across the major European economies dip year on year as a sustained comeback from Sony, Nokia and LG begins to broaden the competitive landscape," he said.

Meanwhile in the US, Apple has had a good year, and now accounts for close to 40 per cent of the mobile market. That figure is expected to rise further if iPhone 5S and 5C sales match the usual sales boost Apple gets when it releases a shiny new mobe for the market, Sunnebo said.

For all its European success, Windows Phone isn't in the running in the Japanese market, and Android and iOS split sales roughly evenly at 47.4 per cent to 48.6 per cent, respectively. However, now that the nation's largest carrier NTT is stocking iPhones, Android will be in for a tougher time of it.

Sadly (for some at least) there's no good news for BlackBerry. Sales continue to fall, and the firm only has 1.8 per cent share in the US and 2.4 per cent in Europe. Maybe that $4.7bn price tag is looking a little optimistic these days? ®

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