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Android now 50 per cent of UK smartphone market

David Ludlow
9 Aug 2011
Android now 50 per cent of UK smartphone market
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Massive growth for Google's OS as it powers past Apple

Android continues to go from strength-to-strength, with the latest sales figures showing that almost 50 per cent of new smartphones sold in the UK run Google's mobile operating system.

Figures released by research firm Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, show that smartphones now make up 50 per cent of all UK phone sales, with Android leading the pack with a 48.8 per cent market share. This makes Google's OS more than twice as popular as iOS, which has 20.2 per cent of the market - a decline of just over five per cent in the past year.

The growth of the smarphone in the UK is largely down to operators giving away handsets with some tariffs.

"The two countries which sell the most smartphones (GB and Australia) are also the same two where the highest proportion of smartphones are given free to consumers signing up to contract tariffs (61% free in Great Britain, 44% free in Australia)," said Dominic Sunnebo, global consumer insight director at Kantar. "Consumers find it very compelling to be offered a free smartphone with little to no increase in tariff. This is a very different story in countries like Italy, where the vast majority of the market is prepay, meaning that handset subsidies, if they exist at all, are minimal."

This, in part, explains the success that Android's had. Its open source nature means that handset manufacturers are free to do with it as they please, and can make cheap, but feature-rich handsets, such as the Samsung Galaxy Mini, Samsung Galaxy Fit and HTC Wildfire S.

Google has also rapidly improved its operating system, with Android 2.3 the smoothest and easiest-to-use yet. Handset manufacturers have been playing their part, too, with high-end phones, such as the Samsung Galaxy S2 making Android a desirable OS to own.

RIM also made a slight increase in market share moving to 19.2 per cent of the market. Microsoft gained 1.7 per cent of the market for Windows Phone 7, but this is a relative failure of the OS and shows that it's failed to grip consumers in the same way as Android or Apple. It was bad news for Nokia, though, as Symbian lost 24.6 per cent of its market share, taking it down to 7.6 per cent and a long way from the number one spot.

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