The iOS operating system from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) has reclaimed the lead in the U.S. smartphone sales race, according to the latest data from Kantar Worldpanel. In the 12 weeks ending on October 28, iOS claimed 48.1% of U.S. smartphone sales, compared with 46.7% share for the Android operating system from Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG).
The success of the iPhone 5 has driven the sales burst, according to Kantar, and an even bigger share is in the offing:
The last time we saw iOS overtake Android in the US was when the iPhone 4S was released and Apple managed to retain its lead for three consecutive periods. This time we predict that Apple will beat its previous high of 49.3% and achieve its highest ever share of the US smartphone market within the next two periods.
Apple’s U.S. success is not duplicated in Europe, where Android grabs a 73.9% share in Germany and an 81.7% share in Spain. Perhaps surprisingly, Kantar notes that Windows Phone from Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) on Lumia handsets from Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) nabs 11.7% of the smartphone market in Italy.
Of U.S. iPhone 5 sales, 62% are owners of earlier iPhone models who are upgrading, 13% are switching from Android phones, and 6% are switching from BlackBerry phones from Research In Motion Ltd. (NASDAQ: RIMM). Kantar notes:
Apple has always managed to maintain loyalty levels far above the competition, and this has clearly played a part in driving sales of its new device. An impressive 92% of existing Apple owners in the US said they will choose an iPhone the next time they upgrade. While loyalty is clearly key, it is also important to make sure that new customers are attracted to your brand. With roughly 60% of US iPhone 5 sales coming from existing customers and 40% from new consumers, Apple is achieving this at the moment – a clear sign of the strength of the brand in the US marketplace.
Kantar attributes the boom in sales to the larger screen and the 4G/LTE capabilities of the iPhone 5.