LONDON: Smartphones powered by Google's Android operating system now account for over two-thirds of category sales in Europe's major markets, as the sector begins to show signs of consolidation.

According to Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, handsets running on Android claimed 67.1% of smartphone purchases across the region's five biggest outlets in the 12 weeks to August 5th, 2012.

This figure had increased from 46.9% year on year, during which time the share held by Apple's iPhone had declined from 19.6% to 14.6%.

Dominic Sunnebo, global consumer insight director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, suggested that Android may "dominate" at present, but the roll out of the iPhone 5 later this year may improve Apple's position.

By country, Android was strongest in Spain, delivering 86.8% of smartphone purchases, measured against 72% in Germany and 62.4% in the UK. France posted 61.9% on this metric, versus 58.6% in Italy.

Apple's share was highest in the UK on 21.8%, and the company was in double digits in all the other European nations assessed except Spain, where it was a modest 2.9%.

In demonstration of Android's particular strength in Europe, its equivalent share stood at 55.9% in the US, while Apple's iOS operating system secured a total of 35.2%.

The proportion of sales accrued by Android handsets stood at 46.8% in Brazil. Nokia's Symbian holds a 22% share in the Latin American nation, but only 4.3% in Europe, and a score of effectively zero in the US.

Elsewhere, Research in Motion's BlackBerry yielded just 6.1% of purchases in Europe, off from 11% a year ago, while Windows, Microsoft's operating system saw growth from 3.6% to 5.2%.

"Surprisingly, Windows has managed to maintain its 5% share despite a raft of new Windows 8 products being announced. However, this has been achieved through heavy discounting," said Sunnebo.

More broadly, the analysis noted that smartphones with larger screens are gaining popularity, as 29% of Android devices acquired during the reporting period boasted a display of at least 4.5 inches in size.

"Consumers who own a smartphone with a larger screen tend to be much more engaged with their device across a whole array of functions," Sunnebo added. "For example, only 19% of consumers with a screen smaller than three inches download and watch videos, compared to 65% when the screen is five inches or more."

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