New surveys out today have highlighted two growing trends in the European mobile space.
First, the Android operating system has increased its share of the five major European markets from 39 percent to 60 percent year-on-year in the 12 weeks to the 13 May.
Back in March, some experts predicted that Android’s growth had peaked.
However, the latest data from Kantar Worldpanel show that the percentage of smartphone sales over the period with Android was most marked in Spain, which grew by over 45 percent.
Germany saw the second biggest increase, up over 31 percent.
Italy was up 23 percent, France up 20 percent and the UK up four percent.
In Spain, Android handsets now have an 80 percent market share.
“Recessionary pressures are clearly hitting consumers’ wallets –demonstrated by the budget Samsung Galaxy Mini topping [Spain’s] sales charts,” commented Dominic Sunnebo, global consumer insight director at Kantar.
In Germany, where Android now has 69 percent of the market, it is a lack of subsidized handsets that is driving demand.
“The [German] economy is clearly in a very different place; however, its major networks offer very low subsidies on handset purchases making it one of the most expensive countries in Europe to buy a smartphone,” said Sunnebo.
“This means that smartphone penetration is the lowest throughout the major European economies.
“As a result, brands such as Huawei, which sell low-end Android models, are now starting to make inroads.”
Overall therefore, Android phones retained their recent position as the most popular in all five markets.
What is perhaps more prevalent is what is happening to its rivals.
Unsurprisingly, Nokia’s Symbian OS was the biggest loser over the last 12 months – sales fell in all five markets, including drops of 36 percent in Spain and 25.5 percent in Italy.
Canada-based RiM also recorded falls in all five markets, the biggest of which was in the UK where its market share now stands at 13 percent, down from 21 percent this time last year.
Even in it’s largest market, Germany, it only has a four percent market share.
Apple’s iOS had a mixed year, with increases in the UK, Germany and Italy offset by falls in France and Spain.
Equally WP7, which experts predicted will become the third OS, saw gains in the UK, France and Italy, but falls in Germany and Spain.
All this just proves that Android’s rivals are failing to keep pace with customers of the doomed Symbian and, to a lesser extent, RiM being split.
Aside from providing the right operating system, one way that operators could look to increase customer experience is the result of a second survey.
According to smartphone users in the UK and Germany, direct operator billing has become the preferred payment method of choice for apps and in-app purchases.
Of those who have made such transactions, 29 percent prefer to have the charge added to their mobile phone bill through direct operator billing.
This compares to 18 percent who prefer credit card payments and 10 percent who prefer debit cards.
The caveat is that the research was undertaken on behalf of a direct operator billing vendor, MACH.
Nevertheless, it seems Michael De Jongh, head of sales for mobile billing and payments, has reason to be confident in saying such a solution presented “a significant opportunity” for operators and mobile content providers to differentiate themselves and offer a more compelling user-experience.
Nineteen percent of smartphone users in the UK said that they would be likely to switch networks if their provider was unable to offer it.