Apple's iPhone X drives gains in key markets

The iPhone X has boosted Apple's smartphone share in some of the world's key markets, the latest Kantar WorldPanel ComTech data shows.

Apple, iOS, iPhone X, smartphone, Android, mobile
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The iPhone X has boosted Apple’s smartphone share in some of the world’s key markets, the latest Kantar WorldPanel ComTech data shows.

Apple’s thousand-dollar gamble

It’s not a huge surprise. Ever since people began chattering about Apple’s plans to launch a thousand-dollar-smartphone, tech media commentators with their fingers on the pulse have declared the company doomed.

That’s good news as experienced Apple watchers now know that those times when the usual suspects most vilify Cupertino are usually also the moments when the company sees the most success.

That’s certainly the case here, with ComTech revealing that in the three months ending December 2017:

  • The iPhone X made it into the top three best-selling devices in the month of December across Europe, urban China, Japan, Australia and the United States. 
  • iOS loyalty reached a new high in the US – of iPhone owners who changed device, 96 percent bought another model from Apple – though its sales share fell 0.5 percentage points to 43.9 percent in the country.  
  • Apple’s share in the top five European markets climbed to 24.8 percent, up 0.7 percent.
  • iOS is approaching a quarter of the market in Spain and Germany
  • Apple also saw strong sales in China, Japan and Australia

Apple gets bigger in China

Apple’s management will be heartened by results in China. The critics – who had anticipated that the new iPhones would be too expensive for Chinese consumers – got it wrong.

Apple’s all new thousand-dollar iPhones drove market share in China to climb 10.1 percent, shooting from 18.5 percent this time last year to hit 28.6 percent share.

While it still holds 71.2 percent of the Chinese smartphone market, Android fell 10.1 percent. I’d argue this proves that earlier reports of Apple’s death in China were – as usual – exaggerated.

The UK was perhaps the only exception. Apple actually saw share fall by 2.4 percentage points there.

That’s disappointing, but not unexpected given the country is itself beleaguered by economic mismanagement and declining real wage growth.

Despite those headwinds, Apple still accounts for 44.2 percent of the smartphone market there – that’s bigger than its U.S. share of 43.9 percent but smaller than the 55.2 percent it holds in Japan and 46 percent slice of Australia’s smartphone market.

In other words, while Apple did lose some ground, the UK remains its third biggest territory by market share.

What raw market numbers don’t express particularly well is that these platforms are highly addictive. What that means is that Apple has got consumers hooked, enabling the company to visualise and bring to market all manner of new solutions – and sparking speculation as to the next iPhone iteration.

Staggered release plan ‘vindicated’

In a press release announcing these results, Dominic Sunnebo, Global Director for Kantar Worldpanel ComTech called Apple’s decision to release three new handsets over a staggered period “sound”.

“With Apple’s existing release structure, expectations would always be that the flagship model would be the top selling device in key developed markets, but with the premium price of iPhone X, real life affordability has come into play.  Given that in December iPhone X made it into the top three best-selling devices across all key regions, particularly in urban China where it was the top selling model, the pricing strategy seems to have been vindicated,” he said.

Meanwhile, of course, Apple continues to develop and introduce new technologies designed to augment and improve the experience.

Android closes Windows

The data also confirms some lost ground for Android, but the analysts believe it made up for those losses by scooping up the remaining fragments of the fast asphyxiating Windows smartphone market, which has shrunk to under one percent in all markets (bar Italy). Windows mobile has completely disappeared in the world’s most advanced mobile market that is Japan (where Apple dominates).

Of course, for all the claims of “choice” in the Android ecosystem, there’s really only one Android market champion, and that’s Samsung. The latter holds 31.3 percent share. Samsung and Apple together now account for 70.8 percent of the U.S. market. Motorola and Google hold 5.6 percent and 2.8 percent respectively. 

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