Apple retains European smartphone lead over rapidly-growing Samsung

The UK continues to be Apple’s European fortress against the invading hordes of Android smartphones. That’s the word from Internet firm comScore, which announced Monday most European cell phone owners have adopted smartphones. In the United Kingdom, Apple is holding onto a slim 4 point-lead.

Meanwhile, South Korea-based Samsung experiences double-digit growth. Germany is the only European nation where smartphone penetration has not reached at least 50 percent. In the UK and Spain, two countries where consumers have largely abandoned landlines, smartphone adoption is at 62.3 percent and 63.2 percent, respectively.

But the real story could be the tight race between Apple and Samsung, fueled by Android’s growing presence in Europe…

As the above chart shows, Apple as of October was at 28 percent of the UK market, a 1.5 percent increase over the same period in 2011. Samsung was close behind at 24 percent of the market, a 12.8 percent increase over 2011, according to comScore.

RIM and HTC hover in the 2.5-2.7 percent range, while Nokia slips under the ten percent mark.

Are these numbers worrisome for Apple?


But as TechCrunch notes, the October figures do not capture any growth from the holiday period, expected to be strong for the iPhone maker.

When it comes to the battle between iOS and Android, the Google smartphone operating system currently has the upper hand.

According to comScore, Android has 46.6 percent of the UK smartphone market, while Apple is #2 with 28 percent. However, like the handset chart, the growth of Android is at a double-digit 12.4 percent while Apple maintains 1.5 percent growth.

Increasingly, the smartphone race is becoming a two-company field: Apple and Samsung. Symbian saw the largest drop in usage – 10.8 percent – while Microsoft saw a microscopic 0.5 percent increase to 3.1 percent of UK users above the age of 13.

While comScore’s MobiLens survey measures smartphone usage, the recent Kantar Worldpanel covered smartphone sales. The firm announced Android had more than 60 percent of smartphones purchased.

Earlier this month, Kantar announced the iPhone 5 helped Apple retake the US lead from Android. That last happened when the iPhone 4S was released.

The slowdown of growth in Europe for Apple places more importance on emerging nations, such as China. As mature regions such as North America and Europe offer less of a potential for growth, we will likely see product planning, marketing and strategy more focused on elsewhere.

Can Apple alter its #2 position in Europe, or should be settle in for a long-running cold war between iOS and Android?