iPhone beats Android in U.S. smartphone sales for the first time in three years

Wednesday, TechCrunch relayed a new survey by market research firm Kantar Worldpanel which underscores a small victory in Apple’s global rivalry with Android as the company overtook Android vendors in terms of units shipped in the United States during the last three months of 2014.
 Driven by the introduction of its larger-screened iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, Apple took a 47.7 percent share of the U.S. smartphone market. Android grabbed a 47.6 percent share and Windows Phone accounted for just 3.8 percent of smartphone sales.

“While the success of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus is unprecedented, this quarter’s performance also points to Apple having its strongest portfolio ever,” said Carolina Milanesi, chief of research at Kantar Worldpanel. “With a range of devices available at different price points in both contract and pre-pay Apple was able to take advantage of a weaker Android offering at the premium end of the market.”

Apple sold more smartphones than all of its rivals put together during Q4 2014, then, according to the latest figures from Kantar. But it was very, very close. We’ll have to wait until we get this quarter’s stats to see whether this is the start of Apple’s takeover, or whether it’s simply a blip caused by greater demand for the iPhone over the holiday season.

Apple sold a record 74.5 million iPhones during the holiday quarter, a 46 percent growth, resulting in the most profitable quarter of any company ever.

Kantar chief of research Carolina Milanesi noted it’s “the slimmest 0.1 percent margin” he’s ever seen. Not only is Apple’s success the result of the iPhone 6 mania, but also due to “the strongest product portfolio” in Apple’s history.

Here’s Kantar’s breakdown of smartphone OS shares across key markets.
Although the iPhone is the best-selling smartphone in the US, followed by Samsung’s Galaxy S5, Google is going strong in Europe even though Android declined 3.8 percentage points overall to 66.1 percent share across the continent while iOS grew by 6.2 percentage points during the holiday quarter.

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