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Android phones UK surge: should Apple worry?

Android phones UK surge: should Apple worry?

Android and Apple market share figures sometimes seem to appear on a weekly basis. But the latest report from Kantar Worldpanel is especially interesting because of the picture it paints of the current state of the UK smartphone market.

The headline figures certainly make impressive reading if you happen to work for Google. Android had 45.2 per cent share as of June this year, up from just 10.7 per cent in the same month in 2010. Conversely, iOS has slid back from 30.6 per cent to 18.3 per cent.

galaxy s2 largo

This raises some important points about Google’s surge. The OS’s presence across the smartphone space, from top-end devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S II to budget efforts like the HTC Wildfire S, means the Big G has a much better chance of picking up share from across the spectrum.

Of course, Apple’s only able to compete at the top-end, with the iPhone 4, while the iPhone 3GS soldiers on as a cheaper alternative. These numbers should also be viewed in context of the fact that smartphone sales in general have gone up massively. Canalys stats from April 2011 show 101 million smartphones were sold worldwide in January alone.

Smartphones now outsell PCs and everyone wants to get hold of one. Google’s growing preponderance is largely down to the fact that it’s able to offer Android to power users and casual users alike.

That’s not to say it hasn’t given Apple a beating in this instance. iPhone sales remain strong and Apple’s profit margins continue to grow quarter-on-quarter, but Google’s volumes are obviously much better.

So what can Cupertino do to stem the tide here in the UK? Well, release the iPhone 5 for a start. That should see it at least gain some share during the winter months.

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The other option, one which will doubtless be shot down by Steve Jobs, is to tout an iPhone nano that brings the best of iOS to the masses. This has been the subject of intense rumour in the past, but is unlikely to happen.

As it stands, it seems Apple is happy to defer to Google, in the UK at least. Apple is interested in making as much money as possible from the iPhone, rather than ensuring volume massively outstrips that of its rivals.

Of course it’s important for Apple to sell lots of phones. But its vast margins mean these figures are unlikely to cause trouble right now. Google currently has a position of power in the UK smartphone market, but that shouldn’t cause Apple too many sleepless nights.

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