iPhone triumphs in U.S., while Android continues to decline

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iPhone 7
iPhone 7, 7 Plus and 6s were big winners over the holiday season.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Sorry Android, it seems that iOS got the better gifts this Christmas!

According to the latest Kantar Worldpanel ComTech sales figures, iOS gained market share at Android’s expense in the United States, United Kingdom, France and elsewhere.

In the U.S., this marked the sixth consecutive quarterly decline for Android, while Apple grew 6.4 percent year-on-year.

Although Google’s mobile platform still makes up 55.3 percent of all smartphone sales in the country, this is down from the 60.4 percent it managed in the same period one year earlier. Considering how many handsets run Android, while only iPhones run iOS, it’s a pretty darn impressive stat for Apple.

As per Kantar’s figures, the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, and iPhone 6s were the three most popular smartphones in the U.S. at the start of the holiday season, and made up a combined 31.3 percent of smartphones sales. That means that roughly one in every three smartphones sold was made by Apple.

Following the iPhone were the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge as the fourth and fifth best-selling handsets respectively. Samsung’s flagship devices made up a close-fought 28.9 percent of smartphone sales.

Apple’s most impressive growth market was Great Britain, where sales were up a sizable 9.1 percent.

Not so big in China

One notable market where Apple didn’t see iOS growth, however, was in Urban China. iOS was down year-on-year to a 19.9 percent share, compared with 25.3 percent a year earlier.

“Nearly 80% of all smartphones sold in Urban China during the three months ending November 2016 were Android, as local brands continued to dominate the market,” said Tamsin Timpson, Strategic Insight Director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech Asia. “Huawei represented 25% of all sales, but its share declined 3.1 percentage points from the three-month period ending October 2016, marking only its second period of decline in more than two years.”

Tim Cook has repeatedly spoken about the emphasis Apple places on China, and has described the country as Apple’s future biggest market.

While this may seem bad news for Apple, though, the iPhone 7 has still proven very successful in the country. With a massive refresh planned for the iPhone 8 later this year, Apple has good reason to feel confident going into the new year.

Source: Kantar

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  • jOn Garrett

    Considering only 3 phones?

    Wow, a 5th grader wrote this.
    The iPhone is the only phone that runs iOS and it’s all about Android vs iOS.

    • melci

      So, you want to compare operating systems do you? You won’t like it.

      When we compare operating systems (active phones + phablets + tablets), we find that Apple with close to 1 billion active iOS devices is close to 70% the size of Google’s 1.4 billion active Android devices and close to 59% the size of Google Android + AOSP forked Android.

      Perhaps not quite what you wanted to hear?

      • jOn Garrett

        Android was 1.4 billion in 2015 sitting at 87.5% as of November 2016 (let that percentage sink in more a moment)

        That’s pretty amazing considering the headstart iOS had, the popularity of the iPhone all the free press apple gets and the credit they get for inventing things they didn’t event and credit for trends they don’t set.

        I don’t care which platform has the most users, the most app, the most money, I only care about having a device that has no restrictions, no limitations.

        A device that I can use the way I want to, not the way some tight ass thinks I should. That’s what iOS users will never understand.

      • melci

        Actually, Google announced there were 1.4 billion active Android devices (tablets and phones) in Sept 2015. Shortly after Apple announced there were over 1 Billion active Apple devices (of which close to 900m were active iOS devices).

        ABI research reports that non-Google Android devices only add an additional 25-30% Android device to the Android total.

        That means acive iOS devices are close to 70% the size of Google’s active
        Android devices and close to 59% the size of Google Android + AOSP
        forked Android. (let those percentages sink in for a moment)

        What this demonstrates is that despite high smartphone unit sales market share, the bulk of Android devices are throw-away plastic devices with a fraction of the useful life of Apple’s expensive machined aluminium slabs. That is why that active installed base of iOS devices is so much higher than the quarterly sales percentage.

        That’s pretty amazing considering Android phones were only 1 year behind the iPhone and thousands of companies make Android devices compared to only 1 making iOS devices and considering that Apple devices are so much more expensive.

        You should care which platform has the most top tier apps (iOS 3rd party developer platform makes 90% more money than the Android dev platform), the most business market share (64-72% business market share is iOS), the most profit share (Apple has 103% the profits of the entire smartphone market) etc. The reason is that platform is the one that gets all the good apps first and often exclusively and it is also the platform that won’t leave you with an orphan device with no updates or no support like so many failed Android companies over the years.

      • jOn Garrett

        You typed all that for nothing, I already said I don’t give a damn about none of that.

        1 billion or 100 billion, what difference does that make to you?

        The only phone you need to worry about is the one in your pocket.

      • melci

        The problem for you is that the phone in your pocket is affected if developers don’t make enough money or your manufacturer is bleeding hundreds of millions of dollars a year in terms of no support, no OS or firmware updates, no customised hardware accessories, less top tier apps, many less business apps, more malware.

        Like it or not, your phone is not an island.

      • jOn Garrett

        A person would have to be a real fool to believe that developers don’t make money on Android–a platform that runs on nearly 90% of the world’s smartphones and tablets.

        iOS updates are rarely ever updates, they’re 97% patches and bug fixes you’re not getting exciting and new features with each and the things that are “new” aren’t new, they’re years old Android features. I don’t know about other OEM’s but Samsung pushes updates every month, the same patches and bug fixes that Apple does.

        So let’s talk about the other side of updates–hardware.

        Why is it 2017 and the iPhone has the same PPI as 2010? The 720p display of 2012, the plus has the 1080p display of 2013. Your NFC chip is practically useless. There’s never been expandable storage, never an IR blaster, no heart rate, SpO2 or other sensors, still no notification LED, and only just now got stereo sound.

      • melci

        Actually Jon, the iOS platform generates 90% more revenue than the Android platform for 3rd party developers, up from 80% the previous quarter and 70% the previous year according to App Annie and Vision Mobile’s Developer Economics Report all clearly indicate that iOS-First is still the rule.

        Vision Mobile’s Q2 2015 Developer Economics Report states “Apple owns the high end. The iOS ecosystem appears to have a lock on the high end that will be hard to break”
“Android handset makers are increasingly unable to compete effectively for the premium customers. Those are the customers that are most interesting to well-funded developers, as well as advertisers, retailers and various service providers….The result is that most developers who are primarily interested in revenue target iOS first”

Vision Mobiles’s Q2 2015 Developer Economic report gives some insight into why developers target iOS first and often exclusively:

        – 8% of iOS developers (17,000 devs) generate greater than $2.4 Million annually
        – 7% or 15,000 iOS devs make between $600K and $2.4 Million p.a.
        – 24% or 50,000 iOS devs make between $60K and $600K p.a.

        However, it is not nearly so rosy for Android developers as Vision Mobile reports:

        “It turns out that Android is not even the second best platform for revenues. Of those prioritising the mobile browser, 47% are below the app poverty line, making less than $500 and 29% make more than $5,000 per month”

        “Android developers look poor in comparison with 55% earning less than $500 per month from the platform and just 19% earning more than $5,000 per month. In fact, the revenue distribution for Android-first developers doesn’t look much better than that for those targeting BlackBerry 10 or Windows Phone either. Since the user base for Android is more than an order of magnitude bigger, this is astonishing.”

        “Speculation that Android’s overwhelming market share would eventually tempt top iOS developers to switch their priorities seem to have been unfounded. If anything, the reverse is likely to happen as the app economy continues to mature.”

        In terms of updates, major iOS updates have brought all sorts of new features over the years. Full 64bit OS and hardware years before Android, In-App purchases years before Android, Continuity that allows you to start something on your iPhone, go to your iPad and carry on exactly where you left off, then move to your Mac and the equivalent app and documents are sitting there waiting for you. Then there is the ability to answer your mobile phone calls on any device – phone, tablet or Mac, etc.

        Of course the biggest problem for Android is the lack of Security patches and updates. Cambridge University reports that on average, 87.7% of Android devices have unpatched critical rootkit-level vulnerabilities going back 4 years and that it takes 18 months for 30% of Android devices to be patched while the rest NEVER get patches. This is why Android is called a Toxic malware Hellhole.

        Not to mention that less than 4% of all Android users can see the the wealth of recent emoji released by Unicode because the vast majority of Android users do not get updates. In contrast, well over 85% of all iOS users are on the latest OS release meaning they have a cornucopia of emoji’s to add to their messages. Now there’s a real world problem that affects those millions of texting Android users daily. :-)

        You then mention those ridiculous QuadHD smartphone screens. The Retina screen resolution of the iPhone 7+ at 401 ppi is already far beyond the point where the human eye can resolve individual pixels.

        However, the pointless spec wars that Android manufacturers have to engage in is a self-defeating attempt at differentiating their phones from competitors with useless bullet points on the spec listing. As all the benchmarks demonstrate, the negative outcome of these QuadHD screens is lower battery life and slower graphics performance having to move so many unwarranted pixels around.

        It’s as pointless as the old “Megapixel wars” in digital cameras in years gone by. 

        Android manufacturers have truly shot themselves in the foot with this one.


        Android users also have far less choice in hardware accessories and peripherals customised for their phones because of the vastly larger installed base of iPhones that all share common form factors providing a much larger market for these 3rd party accessory and peripheral manufacturers.

        In contrast, the highly fragmented state of hardware designs and form factors of the vast myriad of Android smartphone models available means a much smaller audience for any one Android model.

        The other reason iPhones get all the accessories and peripherals is because iOS users represent a much higher income demographic that generates far more revenue for third parties as well as Apple than the entire Android user base.

        Oh, and you got the proportions of active iOS vs Android devices incorrect. As I’ve previously mentioned, there are close to 70% as many active iOS devices as there are active 
Google Android tablets and phones and close to 59% the size of Google Android + AOSP 
forked Android.

  • karroryfer

    6% in US is MUCH LESS then -6 % in China !

    • melci

      Apple still captured 20% market share in China according to Kantar which means 1 in every 5 phones sold in China (the largest smartphone market in the world) was an iPhone – Absolutely incredible.

  • Kip Light

    cultofmac is a very fitting name for this site. Does that make Apple the Scientology of technology?

    • melci

      Ah, so when an analyst starts reporting Apple market share is going up, you suddenly don’t want to hear it anymore? Sounds like you need to look in the mirror with your accusations.

  • Steve__S

    Keep in mind that the numbers reported by Kantar should be taken with a grain of salt. They are nothing but guesses. There is no actual sales data of significance behind any of their numbers.

    • melci

      Whereas in the past when Kantar reported Android was increasing share, they were the gospel truth eh? ;-)

      The fact is that only Apple reports their unit sales numbers – EVERY other figure from other manufacturers is a guess (all-too-often artificially boosted guess what’s more)

      • Steve__S

        That’s my point. Industry analysts numbers are notoriously wrong and they never go back and acknowledge their errors after companies like Apple post actuals. The point being, reports from Kantar, Gartner, IDC, etc. should all be taken with a major grain of salt and never positioned as fact. That’s all I’m saying.