Windows phone market share continues to plummet, according to Kantar

Laurent Giret

2016 has not been a good year for Windows phones, to say the least. A month ago, the latest ComTech’s Smartphone OS Market Share Data from Kantar World Panel market research company released revealed that Windows Phone users were currently switching to Android in EU5, US and Urban China, adding that “For those switching from Windows, Android has offered a better user experience, with a variety of brands and models across a multitude of price points.” Well, Kantar has released today their latest smartphone OS data for the three months ending April 2016 (via Neowin), and as you can expect Android is still gaining market share across a number of regions, though the market research company notes that “that trend is slowing.”

In the EU5 (Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain.), Kantar notes that “Android accounted for 76% of smartphone sales, up 5.8 percentage points from 70.2% in the three months ending April 2015.” In Great Britain specifically, Android  enjoyed a 58.5% market share in the same period, a gain of 4.1% year-on-year. While iOS lost 0.7 percentage points year-on-year in the country, its 35.1% market share is actually “the first increase since October 2015, though modest at just 0.4%, from 34.7% to 35.1%” according to Kantar Business Unit Director Dominic Sunnebo.

In the meantime, Windows Phone market share decreased from 9.0% to 5.8% year over year (down 4.2 percentage points), with Sunnebo adding that “Android gains came from Windows phone owners switching, a trend that produced nearly 10% of new Android customers, while 21.8% of new iOS buyers switched from Android” in the UK.

Smartphone OS sales market share in the UK in the three months ending April 2016 (Kantar Worldpanel).
Smartphone OS sales market share in the UK in the three months ending April 2016 (Kantar Worldpanel).

In the US, Android share increased 5.2% year over year from 62.4% to 67.6%. In the same period, Windows Phone fell from 3.8% to 1.3%, meaning our beloved platform will soon have less than 1% market share in the country. Furthermore, according to Kantar Mobile Analyst Lauren Guenveur Android growth in the US is mostly credited to loyal Android users:

“While growth in other parts of the world has clearly been a result of movement either from the Windows ecosystem or a feature phone, Android gains in the US are powered by repeat customers. Among those replacing their smartphone, more than nine out of ten (91.4%) of Android buyers owned a previous Android device.”

Kantar Worldpanel smartphone market share US 2016
Smartphone OS sales market share in the US in the three months ending April 2016 (Kantar Worldpanel).

In Urban China, Android share rose to 78.8% of smartphone sales in the three months ending April 2016 (a 5.4% growth year-over-year) while iOS market share decreased to 20.1% in the same period (down 5.1 percentage points), and Kantar Strategic Insight Director Tamsin Timpson added that “nearly a third of Android users during this time were purchasing their first smartphone, in contrast to iOS buyers, of whom only 14% were first-time smartphone customers.” Of course, Windows Phone never mattered in the country and its 0.4 market share means that the OS could soon disappear from Kantar’s radars.

Kantar Smartphone market share China 2016
Smartphone OS sales market share in China in the three months ending April 2016 (Kantar Worldpanel).

Last, Guenveur explained that Windows Phone has already become irrelevant in mature smartphone markets:

In Europe and the US, the smartphone market is approaching saturation, and future successes for either of the two dominant ecosystems will come chiefly from drawing customers away from the other. With Windows phones exiting the market, this battle will only intensify.

Following Microsoft’s latest streamlining of its phone business a few weeks ago, CEO Satya Nadella explained that “we are focusing our phone efforts where we have differentiation,” meaning that going forward the company would focus its hardware efforts on business customers while letting third-party OEMs take care of consumer Windows phones.

It’s still not clear if this strategy is going to work as we’re still waiting for OEMs to deliver competitive Windows 10 Mobile handsets in the market, and this decreasing market share makes it more and more risky for OEMs to actually support a struggling platform. Do you think Microsoft can afford to let Windows Phone market share decrease even further this year while it’s reportedly working on a Surface Phone to be released in Spring 2017? Let us know what you think in the comments below.