Kantar, the marketing data and analytics company, has released the latest data from its Worldpanel ComTech OS smartphone. It reveals that despite rising inflation and severe supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, Apple’s iOS platform increased its installed base year over year across all 5 European countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Great Britain), USA, mainland China and Japan.
Across major markets measured by Kantar, Apple’s iOS platform accounted for 27% of sales in Q3 2022.
Continued success of iPhone 13 drives iOS share
The success of iOS is fueled by the continued strong performance of the iPhone 13, which, a year after launch, remains the most popular smartphone model on the market. iPhone owners typically have higher levels of disposable income, helping them weather the effects of global inflation. Looking ahead, Kantar anticipates that the latest iPhone 14 range will deliver comparable levels of growth.
Apple’s success over the past 20 years is due in part to its big bet on mainland China, after investing heavily in China-based factories that now produce most of its products. This decision was also a big hit with Chinese consumers: Kantar’s Worldpanel ComTech study reports that 21% of people in mainland China owned iPhones in September 2022, an installed base growth of 9% compared to past year.
Kantar data suggests Android has performed at a more consistent pace through Q3 2022, seeing stable installed base growth in all markets except Italy and mainland China, which has been hampered by a drop in Huawei’s growth. Samsung’s Galaxy A series is popular in Europe; its flagship S-series range is the best-selling in the US.
The composition of manufacturers within the Android ecosystem continues to evolve. Huawei’s continued demise in Europe, coupled with LG’s withdrawal from the market last year, has fueled the growth of Chinese brands Xiaomi and Oppo. They are the third and fifth own brand respectively in their national market and continue their considerable gains in Europe. It is worth remembering that Xiaomi is the number 1 owned smartphone brand in Spain and number 2 in Italy (growth has been achieved in both markets until the third quarter of 2022).
Keep devices longer
Businesses and consumers in Europe, America and increasingly Asia (which previously seemed immune to the inflation virus) are grappling with rising inflation. As companies struggle to absorb rising costs, they are passed on to the consumer. The result is a delayed purchase of smartphones: the number of consumers who have had their smartphone for four years or more has increased in the following markets.
However, the manufacturer’s response seems less harsh compared to that of consumers. During Apple’s latest announcement, the closest reference to financial restraint was that the iPhone 14 still starts at $999 and the iPhone 14 Pro at $1,099. While this statement rings true in the US, prices have risen for Europeans (standard iPhone 14 models go up £70/€100 respectively), fueled by inflation and a strong dollar. Apple didn’t stop there, raising the cost of its iPad Air by £100 compared to its initial launch price seven months earlier. Google resisted a similar move when it launched its Pixel 7 series last month, but other competitors may not be able to resist the price hike when they launch their next ranges.
Jack Hamlin, Global Consumer Insight Director at Kantar’s Worldpanel ComTech, commented: “In an industry upended by geopolitical, economic and environmental turmoil, Apple’s latest announcement felt like a welcome return to normalcy: a brief escape to its spaceship. Cupertino. The ‘Far Out’ event followed a familiar formula, with the latest iPhone, Watch and AirPods being announced.
European consumers have more price-conscious attitudes
Smartphone makers raising their prices are exacerbating an already difficult financial environment for European consumers reeling from high energy bills. Europeans have more price-conscious attitudes towards technology than the other regions surveyed. Kantar’s Worldpanel ComTech study reports that 31 percent of European smartphone owners say they spend within a specific price range compared to 22 percent of Americans.
Hamlin added: “However, far from the glamor of launch events, the smartphone industry is entering a period of unprecedented change. The study reports modest growth in smartphone ownership in the third quarter of 2022 compared to the third quarter of 21 in the 5 European countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Great Britain), the US, China mainland, Australia and Japan. YoY growth in the installed base has stagnated the most in Japan, where it has fallen from +7% to +3%, and in Great Britain, where it has fallen from +3% to +1% compared to the previous year. As we approach the end of 2022, smartphone makers must find the answer on how to navigate inflationary pressures and more price-sensitive consumers. Improved trade-in values, broader budget device ranges, absorption of additional operating costs, improved distribution channels, and product development at scale are just a few of the levers that can be pulled.”