Apple records highest U.S. smartphone sales, Android leads Europe

Apple has recorded its highest-ever share of smartphone sales in the United States, while Android devices have a decisive lead in European and developing markets.

Recent reports of falling Apple shares do not necessarily paint a complete picture of the competitive field for smartphones, according to an analysis from Kantar Worldpanel Comtech. Per a report from TechCrunch, the WPP division tracking smartphone sales in key markets on a monthly basis found that Apple reached its highest-ever share of U.S. smartphone sales at 53.3%.

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The period in question covers the last 12 weeks ending November 25th, in which Apple rose more than 5% on the strength of the iPhone 5 in the U.S. market. The Cupertino company drew shares away from both Android and RIM as Windows Phone 8 moved into third place at just over 7%.

While the news is encouraging for Apple in the United States, European and developing markets are now predominantly led by Android devices, specifically those manufactured by Samsung. With 61% of sales in Europe's top 5 markets, Android too has reached a record share of sales, compared to Apple's approximately 25% in Europe. 

In Brazil and China, the two developing markets tracked by the research firm, Android respectively accounts for 60.7% and 72.2% of sales. Apple's recent iPhone 5 launch in China could win back a portion of this in the coming year, however, pending agreements with China's top carriers and improved networks. 

One of the more interesting points in the analysis is the fact that Samsung's Galaxy devices alone account for 44% of total smartphone sales in Europe's top 5 markets, a reminder of just how instrumental the Korean company is to the growing dominance of Google's Android OS. 

Apple executed its most aggressive global launch to date with the iPhone 5, debuting the premium smartphone in the U.S. and 30 other countries in September. Assessing sale percentages also does not tell the full story, at least as far as Apple's goals may be concerned, because each iPhone sold generates revenue than cheaper competing devices. 

As Sam Gustin wrote in an October piece for Time Business & Money, Apple vs. Google is arguably the most important battle in today's tech landscape, with Samsung playing a crucial part. Each company offers a competing model for the future of mobile computing, and perhaps the figures summarized above highlight regional preferences, the state of telecommunications infrastructure, and economic realities in different markets. 

It could be argued, as well, that smartphones don't paint a complete picture of the battle between Apple and Android, as tablets, applications, and services all play increasingly crucial roles in defining the competition and viability of each company's strategy.