Tight at the top: iPhone edges Windows Phone by just 1% in Germany

Microsoft's platform accelerating in Europe

Tight at the top: iPhone edges Windows Phone by just 1% in Germany

Almost three years to the day since the first Windows Phone handsets hit retail, Microsoft's platform can finally call itself a major player in Europe, with its share of smartphone sales almost doubling during the last 12 months.

Windows Phone now accounts for 9.2 percent of sales in Europe's five most major markets – up from 5.1 percent this time last year – according to Kantar Worldpanel, with its hand in the UK hitting 12 percent.

The platform's French share is also up, rising to 10.8 percent. Both figures represent the first time Microsoft's OS has hit double digits in major western markets.

Catching up

More interesting is the progress Windows Phone is making in what's traditionally a strong market for Microsoft: Germany.

Kantar Worldpanel claims Windows Phone sales are just one percent behind iPhone in the region based on numbers from the most recent quarter, with its growth – as in the rest of Europe – triggered by the launch of new low to mid-end Nokia handsets.

"Windows Phone's latest wave of growth is being driven by Nokia's expansion into the low and mid range market with the Lumia 520 and 620 handsets," detailed Kantar Worldpanel's strategic insight director Dominic Sunnebo.

"These models are hitting the sweet spot with 16 to 24 year- olds and 35 to 49 year olds, two key groups that look for a balance of price and functionality in their smartphone."

Competitive landscape

On the rest of the market, Sunnebo claimed the battle between handset manufacturers is also heating up.

"After years of increasing market share, Android has now reached a point where significant growth in developed markets is becoming harder to find, he concluded.

"Android's growth has been spearheaded by Samsung, but the manufacturer is now seeing its share of sales across the major European economies dip year on year as a sustained comeback from Sony, Nokia and LG begins to broaden the competitive landscape."

In stark comparison, Kantar Worldpanel claims BlackBerry's woes continue to mount, with BB handsets accounting for 2.4 percent of sales in the EU5 and 1.8 percent in the US.

[source: Kantar Worldpanel]