Windows Phone continues to make big gains in Europe, rocketing to double-digit market share in France and Great Britain, and nearly hitting 10% across key markets. Will it be able to soon replicate its success in the U.S. and across the world?
Kantar Worldpanel ComTech's latest report gives Windows Phone a 10.8% market share in France for the three months ending in August, up from 5.6% a year previous. In the U.K. it did even better, at 12% in August, up from 4.5% a year previous. That marks the first time it was over 10% in two major European markets. In Germany it was at 8.8%, up from 3.8% a year previous.
It didn't fare so well in other European countries. In Italy, it was nearly at double digits, at 9.5%, but that was down from 10.3% a year previously. And it's bumping along in Spain, with a 2.2% market share, barely up from 2.1% a year previously.
Overall, its market share is 9.2% across the five key European markets. And in Germany, it's less than a point behind the iPhone, at 8.8% to the iPhone's 9.5%.
Android rules in those five important European markets, with 70.1% market share, with the iPhone at 16.1%. BlackBerry, meanwhile is way down at 2.4%. Windows Phone's 9.2% market share compares to its 5.1% a year ago. That 4.2% growth is the largest of any smartphone OS.
In the U.S. the news was not nearly as good for Windows Phone -- 3% market share, up from 2.6% a year ago. So the question is, will Windows Phone be able to replicate its European success in the U.S.?
There's a sign that it might be able to, by looking at how Windows Phone has managed to do so well in Europe. Dominic Sunnebo, strategic insight director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, notes:
"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. 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."
In other words, it's budget-seekers, not those willing to pay for high-end phones, that is driving growth. That mirrors a previous Kantar Worldpanel ComTech survey which found that in the U.S. Windows Phone buyers are often the budget-conscious who are buying smartphones for the first time. Kantar Worldpanel ComTech analyst Mary-Ann Parlato notes:
"Windows strength appears to be the ability to attract first time smartphone buyers, upgrading from a featurephone. Of those who changed their phone over the last year to a Windows smartphone, 52% had previously owned a featurephone...with over half of the US market still owning a featurephone, it's likely that many will upgrade over the coming year, which will ultimately contribute to more growth for the Windows brand."
That will likely help spur a larger market share in the U.S. The problem, though, is that it could be only a short-term bump. Given the dominant Android and iPhone market share in the U.S., Windows Phone will have to start attracting owners of those phones to switch if it wants to get a market share approaching what it has in Europe. And it's not clear that will be possible.