UK smartphone battle heats up

3 April 2013

LONDON: Mobile phone manufacturers such as LG, Nokia and HTC have increased their share of the highly-competitive UK smartphone market in recent months, the latest sales figures have revealed.

The figures from consumer research company Kantar Worldpanel ComTech show that, during the three months ending February 2013, LG's share reached 4.1%, Nokia hit 5.6% and HTC edged up to 9.1%.

"Over the past few months, there have been signs of a more competitive manufacturer dynamic," said Dominic Sunnebo, global consumer insight director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.

LG's improvement was largely driven by the Google-branded Nexus 4, Nokia benefited from the appeal of Windows 8 devices while HTC refreshed its One X+ and 8S models.

But Samsung remained the top smartphone brand in the UK, with 36.2% of sales, ahead of Apple on 29%.

The recent launch of the BlackBerry Z10 has yet to have an impact on smartphone sales in the UK, despite good reviews. "Consumers just don't have the same levels of pent-up demand for the handset as they did for the iPhone 5," noted Sunnebo.

"The handset is likely to start selling in more serious numbers once the launch price falls, and BlackBerry 10 in general, when the range is padded out with a number of wallet-friendly mid-range offerings," he predicted.

In terms of phone sales by operating system, Google's Android continues to hold the number one spot in the UK, accounting for 58.3% of sales in the three months to February.

In fact, the Android OS accounted for over half of smartphone sales in all seven markets considered by Kantar Worldpanel ComTech - Great Britain, Germany, Italy, the US, Australia, urban China and Mexico.

The greatest gains were in Mexico, where Android's share of sales rose 29.9 percentage points year on year to reach 55.8%. This was largely achieved at the expense of the RIM and Symbian operating systems which both contracted sharply.

Germany and the UK also saw double-digit increases of 12.1 points and 10 points respectively to 71% and 58.3%.

And in the US, a 5.8 point rise took Android over a 50% share, to 51.2%, for the first time.

A new twist on the Android story could be announced later this week, when it is rumoured that social media platform Facebook will announce its plans to release a modified version of the Android OS with embedded Facebook functionality.

Data sourced from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, Brand Republic; additional content by Warc staff