NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwired - Jan 27, 2016) - The latest sales data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech for the three months ending in December 2015 highlights the difference in performance of iOS versus Apple. As a vendor, Apple was able to return to the top of the leaderboards in the US, while iOS has struggled to return to the market share it saw in 2014.

"Apple loyalty in the US is at its highest since 2012, reinforcing the fact that customer retention is not an issue. However, customer acquisition from Android has gone from 13% in 4Q14 to 11% in 4Q15, and the contribution that first-time smartphone buyers make to Apple overall sales numbers went from 20% to 11% over that same period," said Carolina Milanesi, chief of research at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.

In the last quarter of 2015, Apple returned to the top of China's smartphone vendor leaderboard with a share of 27%, displacing Huawei, now in second place at 24%, with another seven percentage points separating Huawei and third-place Xiaomi. While Android retained its leadership position in sales for 2015, its share declined to a figure even lower than in 2013. Meanwhile, iOS was able to grow its share in 2015 to 23%, up from 17% in 2014 and 20% in 2013.

While all eyes may be on Apple, other market battles going on in China are worth noting. Huawei has been growing in share, brand awareness, and consideration. In 4Q15, despite losing the number one spot to Apple, Huawei held a share of 24%, 11 percentage points higher than in the same period in 2014. Within the Android ecosystem, Huawei is now the leading brand, with a share of 34% versus the 17% recorded in 4Q14.

As much as the China market is critical for Western brands such as Apple, China is not enough for local vendors who want to rank among the top five brands worldwide. "Many Americans are already buying smartphones and other electronics that are designed elsewhere but manufactured in China, whether they know it or not," Milanesi added. "The big question is whether American consumers are interested in buying devices that are also designed in China."

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"The US market continues to be very competitive as smartphone penetration reached 65% among mobile phone users, and 84% of overall mobile phone sales," noted Milanesi. "The pool of available new buyers is shrinking, and Android's wider price range helps vendors grab late adopters looking for their first smartphone. During the quarter, 31% of Android buyers upgraded from a feature phone, only slightly lower than the 34% recorded in the same period in 2014. This trend is impacting vendors within the Android ecosystem as brands with more price competitive offerings, such as Huawei, LG, ZTE and Alcatel, are growing in market share at the expense of brands such as Samsung and HTC."

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Kantar Worldpanel is the world leader in consumer knowledge and insights, based on continuous consumer panels. Its High Definition Inspiration™ approach combines market monitoring, advanced analytics, and tailored market research solutions that inspire successful actions by its clients. Kantar Worldpanel's expertise about what people buy or use -- and why -- is recognized by brand owners, retailers, market analysts, and government organisations globally.

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