Apple ahead in U.S. smartphone market

Apple led smartphone sales in the U.S. for the 12-week period ending Dec. 23, capturing 51.2 per cent of the market, according to Kantar Worldpanel ComTech fourth quarter data released Tuesday.

In second place was Android, with nearly 45 per cent of sales. Microsoft’s Windows phone snagged just 2.6 per cent of the market. Blackberry didn’t even make the list.

AT&T topped carrier rankings with 33 per cent of smartphones sold, followed by Verizon, which sold 32 per cent. Sprint was in third with only 14 per cent.

“Apple’s continual improvement is thanks to both the iPhone 5 and older models attracting various customer groups, from repeat Apple buyers, first time smartphone buyers and those coming from other smartphone brands, ” said Kantar Worldpanel ComTech analyst Mary-Ann Parlato, in a press release.

“In particular, 36 per cent of iOS sales were derived from other smartphone users over the last year. While this figure remains stable over time, the proportion of Android users moving towards the Apple brand increases. Nineteen per cent of iOS sales over the last year were derived from Android users, compared to nine per cent in 2011.”

Nearly half of Verizon’s Apple sales were a result of users of other brands switching over, including 30 per cent who ditched their Android. AT&T saw a much smaller shift: Only 15 per cent of iOS purchases came from other smartphone users, including six per cent from Android.

Meanwhile, Verizon reported it sold 6.2 million iPhones, a 48 per cent increase over the year before. Analysts pointed to steep discounts on older iOS devices and supply constraints as the reason why only half sold were the much-hyped iPhone 5. It recorded a profit margin of 41.4 per cent for the quarter, something blamed on heavy upfront device subsidies.