LONDON: Google Android is now the leading smartphone operating system by new sales in eight major markets worldwide, a list including Japan, the UK and US.

Kantar Worldpanel, the research firm, reported that Android contributed 45.2% of UK smartphone sales in the 12 weeks ending 12 June, 2011, increasing from 10.7% a year earlier.

Research in Motion, manufacturer of the BlackBerry, also saw a modest annual lift, reaching 22.3%, compared with a starting point of 19.4%.

"BlackBerry's competitive pricing allows younger consumers to switch to a smartphone device at a price they can afford," Dominic Sunnebo, Kantar Worldpanel's global consumer insight director, said.

"BlackBerry is currently attracting the most upgrading shoppers with 84.9% of its new customers previously owning a non-smartphone.

"Our data shows that most first-time smartphone owners look for lower prices."

By contrast, Nokia's Symbian registered a decline from 32.7% to 10.7%, while Apple's iOS slid from 30.6% to 18.3%.

However, the iPhone 4 was named as the top-selling handset in the UK for the last 12 months.

Indeed, 74.3% of new Android sales were drawn from individuals not already possessing a smartphone, measured against 1.4% that had formerly used an iPhone.

"With 63% of British consumers still owning a non-smartphone, future growth lays with upgrading customers," Sunnebo said.

Staying in Europe, Android's proportion of sales had grown from 3.1% to 41.3% in Germany, alongside improving from 1.6% to 26.1% in Italy.

Similarly, the Google-developed operating system logged a 41.3% share in Spain, an increase from 7.6% year on year, and rose by over 15 percentage points in France, hitting 37.5%.

Apple's iOS posted a decrease of 9.2 percentage points in Germany, to 18.4%, was off by 13.3 percentage points in France, yielding 17.9%, and experienced a smaller 1.5% percentage point fall in Spain, to 5.7%.

More positively for Apple, its share rose by 6.8 percentage points in Italy, to reach 20.6% overall.

"We are yet to see any real signs of consumers switching between Android and Apple," Sunnebo continued. "Apple and Android's customers are intensely loyal when choosing their upgrade.

"One reason for this is the investment consumers make in their device through apps. In France for example, the average iPhone costs €215, and 17% of iPhone owners download more than ten apps each month."

"This investment is then lost if they want to choose a different OS as the apps are non-transferable."

In the US, Google's Android recorded an uptick from 19% to 57%, and Apple delivered an expansion from 21.1% to 28.7%.

Such progress largely came at the expense of Windows and Symbian, both down by around ten percentage points, taking shares of 2.6% and just 0.2% respectively.

Elsewhere, in percentage point terms, Nokia's operating system suffered contractions topping 20 percentage point terms everywhere but the US and France, where this decline stood at 3.9%.

Its share of sales now peaks in Spain, at 40.2%, a figure which can be compared with the 77.8% secured in the country during the corresponding timeframe in 2010.

Android's rise was also confirmed by data from Japan, where it contributed 64.7% of acquisitions in this period monitored, gaining nearly 40 percentage points.

This could be placed in context when assessed next to the slide of ten percentage points, to 27.7%, endured by Apple, and Symbian's drop of 27 percentage points, to only 3.7%.

Data sourced from Kantar Worldpanel; additional content by Warc staff