It's that time of the month when Kantar announces the monthly market share data for the smartphone markets across the world. It looks like the Windows Phone (MSFT) continues to show some strength as it establishes itself as the third ecosystem, mostly thanks to Nokia's (NOK) low-end smartphones such as Lumia 520 (also known as Lumia 521).
In the US, iOS (AAPL) and BlackBerry (BBRY) continued to lose market share while Android (GOOG) gained some of the market share they lost and the Windows Phone's decline came to a halt. As of the last quarter, Android claims 57.3% of the American market share, up from 55.1% in August and 51.1% in July. Apple's iOS saw its market share fall to 35.9%, down from 39.3% in August and 43.4% in July. Between April and August, the Windows Phone was on a steady decline as it descended from 5.6% in April to 4.6% in May, 4.0% in June, 3.5% in July and bottoming at 3.0% in August. Finally, the Windows Phone's American market share picked up to 4.6% due to the cheaper Nokia models and it will be interesting to see if the ecosystem can keep this up.
China is another market where Android dominates and the Windows Phone seems to struggle. Windows Phone's current market share of 2.5% is up from last month's 2.1% but down from June's 4.9%. Then again, June seems to be an outlier in Windows Phone's China figures as the operating system's market share ranged from 0.9% to 2.9% in the last year with the exception of this figure. In China, Android increased its market share even further as the operating system's market share jumped from 72% to 81%. Apple's iOS continued to bleed in the country as its market share fell to 13% which signifies the first time in more than a year where the operating system seems to have a market share below 20%.
In Australia, the Windows Phone's market share came as close to double-digits as it ever did. Currently, the Windows Phone has a market share of 9.3% in Australia, up from 6.5% last month. The previous all-time high for the Windows Phone was 7.0% which was attained in July.
In the big five markets of Europe, namely Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Spain, Windows Phone continued its ascent. As of last month, Windows Phone claims a combined market share of 9.8% in these markets, up from 9.2% in August, 8.2% in July and 6.9% in June. This is one market where Windows Phone saw a steady growth with healthy numbers and it is about to claim a double-digit market share soon. Between June and September, iOS lost a significant market share as the operating system's market share fell from 18.5% to 14.6% and Android rose at a slow but steady rate as its market share increased from 69.8% to 71.9%.
If we look at the large European countries one-by-one, Italy is one market where Windows Phone posted the largest jump as its market share rose from 9.5% to 13.7% in one month. In Spain, Windows Phone's market share jumped from 2.2% to 3.7% and this is the European market where Windows Phone seems to have the least presence as the market is dominated with Android (with a 90% market share). In France, Germany and Great Britain, Windows Phone reported small declines (from 10.8% to 10.7% in France, from 12.0% to 11.4% in Great Britain and from 8.8% to 8.5% in Germany).
So far, Windows Phone ecosystem saw considerable success thanks to Nokia. The Finnish phone maker took advantage of its strong brand name in Europe, Latin America and other parts of the world, even though it failed to make much of an impact in the US due to the weak marketing efforts (especially compared to the marketing efforts of Samsung and Apple in the country). It also seems like Nokia didn't see the support it was looking for from its American partners as Verizon (VZ) and AT&T (T) failed to market Nokia's phones. Many of the AT&T's and Verizon's sales associates were reportedly pushing Android and iOS products and a lot of them were not even aware of existence of a third ecosystem besides the big two.
Starting next year, the mobile phone division of Nokia will belong to Microsoft and "Nokia Lumia" will become "Microsoft Lumia." We will be able to see the true effect of Nokia's brand name in selling Windows Phone devices after this change. With the exception of Xbox, Microsoft hasn't been very popular with the consumers and it failed to sell a significant number of tablets despite strong marketing efforts. I honestly expect to see a decline in Lumia brand's growth despite the fact that Microsoft will be putting more "marketing muscle" behind it in the next year. After all, Nokia wasn't the only company that produced Windows Phone devices (there was also HTC, Huawei, Samsung and a few others) but it was the only one that was able to sell these devices. This tells me that Nokia's brand name really made a difference. As someone who bought multiple "Nokia Lumia" devices, I don't find myself very inclined to buy a "Microsoft Lumia" device in the future.
Even though I don't think the Lumia project will be highly profitable for Microsoft, I still see the company as a good investment. Financially speaking, Microsoft continues to perform strongly regardless of how weak the overall market seems to perform. Even in the last few years where we saw the PC market decline in double-digits, Microsoft continued to grow its revenues and profits substantially. The company enjoys very strong margins and it continues to be a cash cow with a strong dividend history.