MICROSOFT may have completed its €5.44bn (£4.48bn) takeover of Nokia’s smartphone arm on Friday, but the software giant is facing an uphill battle in Europe as its share of smartphone sales stumbles in its historic stronghold.
Microsoft’s Windows Phone, which in the last quarter of 2013 ran on 10 per cent of smartphones sold across the five biggest European countries, has slipped to 8.1 per cent share in the three months to March, according to Kantar Worldpanel.
“Windows had a tough start to the year as a result of its entry-level Nokia models facing fierce competition from low-end Motorola, LG and Samsung Android smartphones,” said Kantar Worldpanel ComTech strategic insight director Dominic Sunnebo.
Google’s Android operating software maintained its dominance in Europe with a 70.7 per cent share of smartphones sold, with Apple’s iOS gaining ground with a 19.2 per cent share.
“Apple regained ground in the first quarter of 2014, primarily due to the strong performance of the iPhone 5S, growing its sales share in Europe, Japan and Australia,” added Sunnebo.
In Britain smartphones now account for nine of every 10 smartphones sold, leaving feature phones – mobiles that lack apps and internet capabilities – with just 12 per cent of the market.
In booming Asian markets Apple remains in a strong position accounting for 57.6 per cent of Japanese smartphone sales last month, up from 49 per cent in 2013.
“Japan’s love affair with Apple shows no sign of fading. Even though the iPhone has now been available on Japan’s largest carrier for a number of months Apple still accounts for more than 40 per cent of sales on the network,” said Sunnebo. “With smartphone penetration in Japan lagging well behind Europe and the US, Japan remains a key growth market.”