Two years after falling behind Android in the United States, Apple’s iOS regained the top spot during the holiday sales season in the latest sign of the tech giant’s impressive momentum.
It’s a slim, but significant lead considering that the conventional wisdom two years ago was that Apple would cede market share and settle into second place over the long term. Just a year ago, Android had 50.6 percent market share in the U.S., compared to 43.9 percent for iOS.
While Apple was closing the gap for much of 2014, the introduction of the larger iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus has catapulted the company’s iOS back in front.
“While the success of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus is unprecedented, this quarter’s performance also points to Apple having its strongest portfolio ever,” said Carolina Milanesi, chief of research at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, in a press release. “With a range of devices available at different price points in both contract and pre-pay Apple was able to take advantage of a weaker Android offering at the premium end of the market.”
And by “weaker Android offering,” she was likely referring to Samsung’s woes. According to Kantar, the iPhone 6 was the top-selling smartphone in the U.S., with the Samsung Galaxy S5 at number two. After a year of slumping sales around the world, Samsung is reportedly getting ready to unveil the Galaxy S6 at the Barcelona Mobile World Congress, where it hopes to regain some momentum of its own.
Overall, the mobile industry remains a two-horse race. Microsoft’s Windows Phone had 3.8 percent of the mobile OS market, down from 4.3 percent a year ago. BlackBerry had .3 percent, down from .4 percent a year ago, and below the “other” category which had .6 percent. Yowch and yowch.
Meanwhile, Kantar reported that in Europe, Android’s share fell 3.8 percent from a year ago to 66.1 percent. iOS increased by 6.2 percent.
Apple also got some more good news in China. Kantar said that while Xiaomi sold the most phones in China in December, Apple increased its share from 19 percent to 21.5 percent.