Apple on Two-year High Thanks to iPhone 7
Apple’s newest iPhones have helped it to the strongest rate of growth in the US in more than two years and market share gains over Android devices globally, according to research.
Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, a market researcher, said on Wednesday that the iPhone 7 was the top-selling device in the US, UK and Japan in the three months to October. Analysts said that Apple had been able to capitalise on Samsung's recall of the Galaxy Note 7, whileGoogle’s new Pixel also saw a strong start.
However, Apple lost out in urban China to local brand Oppo, whose R9 handset beat the iPhone 7 to become the top seller in the world’s largest mobile market. Apple’s market share in urban China has fallen from 23 per cent a year ago to 17 per cent, Kantar found.
“While Android dominates in terms of the raw number of devices it powers, Apple remains the most desirable smartphone brand in the world,” said Lauren Guenveur, Kantar’s consumer insight director. Android devices make up more than 75 per cent of smartphone sales in most countries, Kantar said, but the rival operating system saw its fifth consecutive year of decline in the US.
The iPhone’s recovering momentum also drove strong software sales for Apple, according to its marketing chief Phil Schiller. “November 2016 was a record breaker for the App Store,” he said in a tweet, with the “highest monthly sales ever”.
Some analysts had been sceptical at September’s launch that Apple could win back consumers with the iPhone 7, whose physical design was relatively similar to the two-year-old iPhone 6. Apple has promised it will return to growth in the current quarter after in October reporting its first decline in annual revenues for more than a decade.
Its contentious decision to remove the standard headphone socket from the iPhone 7 “proved to be a non-issue” for US consumers, Ms Guenveur said, despite the delayed launch of its AirPod wireless earphones.
In the UK, Apple held the top three places in the market, with the iPhones 7, 6S and SE. That helped Apple increase its share from 40 to 44 per cent over the past year, Kantar said. The iPhone’s biggest share gains were in the US, from 34 to 41 per cent, Kantar’s data show — its highest point since January 2015.
“This confirms our belief that Apple rather than Android manufacturers stood to benefit most from the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 recall,” said Geoff Blaber, analyst at CCS Insight. “Google was distribution-limited with the Pixel, and few other Android devices can compete against the iPhone in the high tier."
Mr Blaber said that while Apple had taken advantage of Samsung’s woes, the smartphone industry was still facing broader headwinds. “Apple continues to strengthen in a slowing smartphone market," Mr Blaber said. “Android's strength is its scale, but it continues to suffer from high tier weakness versus Apple. This has been exacerbated by Samsung’s difficulties.”
Nonetheless, Kantar said that Google’s new Pixel smartphone, seen as its most determined attempt yet to challenge the iPhone in the high end of the market, gained a 0.5 per cent share in the US, a “strong showing” that put it on parity with Huawei and Microsoft.
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