Apple’s iOS has more than 51 percent of the US smartphone market, leading Google’s Android, which claims just over 42 percent of the American market share, according to new figures released Tuesday. The numbers are just the latest prior to Apple’s quarterly sales report expected later this week. Handset sales research firm Kantar announced Apple gained 6.3 percent of the domestic smartphone market, fueled largely by demand for the iPhone 5. Meanwhile, Android sales in the US slowed lightly, shedding 0.6 percent from the same 12-week period in 2011…

“Apple continues to remain strong in certain markets, including the U.S.,” according to TechCrunch, which presented the new Kantar data today.

Today’s report mirrors earlier data the company released also showing iOS leading Android in the US. While Apple in the US has a 51.2 percent to 44.2 percent lead in the United States, that margin is even higher in Japan, where 66 percent of smartphones are powered by iOS, compared to just 32 percent for Android.

In the UK, which Kantar says at 61 percent has the highest penetration of smartphones, Android-based Samsung has a slim lead over Apple. The South Korean company has 35 percent of smartphone sales in that country with 32 percent for Apple.

Echoing an earlier comment that Android demand may be slowing, a Kantar researcher told TechCrunch its survey ending Dec. 23 of 2012 suggests the Google mobile operating system is finding ‘easy wins’ more difficult to find.

Researcher Dominic Sunnebo said:

At the end of 2012 the global OS picture shows Android on top, but clearly the rate of growth it experienced over the past year is beginning to slow as easy wins from first-time smartphone buyers begin to reduce.

A similar projection for Apple has the company peaking at 22 percent of the market in 2014.

Along with repeating the belief that Android is the leading smartphone OS, the Kantar report further illustrates 2014 will be a race of two brands: Apple and Samsung. The company holds 27 percent of smartphone sales in all nine markets the researcher surveyed.

Samsung was strongest in Australia, owning 32 percent of the market and weakest in Japan, where the brand could only claim 6 percent of the smartphone market.

As a result of this smartphone duopoly, added attention will be focused on the actions of Apple and Samsung. The iPad maker is being urged to introduce an inexpensive iPhone to attract the growing number of prepaid subscribers, particularly in China where Android’s low price is an advantage.

For Samsung, there is talk of new handsets that could counter Apple’s headline-grabbing products.

However, market share leadership is simply a number without much significance in some quarters – particularly for Apple supports which point to the company’s lead in every other metric.
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