International growth fueled Apple smartphone share gains before iPhone 6s launch

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Ahead of the launch of the iPhone 6s, Apple saw continued market share gains across most of the world's largest smartphone markets, according to the latest sales data from Kantar Worldpanel.

The latest data published by Kantar on Monday shows that Apple's iOS posted smartphone market share gains in China, Great Britain, Germany, France, Australia, and Japan for the three-month period ending in August. In all six major markets, Apple's share of the smartphone space grew from the same three-month span of 2014, while Google's Android lost share.

Apple's greatest gains, percentage-wise, came in Australia, where iOS share was up 8.5 percent year over year, and Android tumbled 11.2 percent. As of August, iOS was estimated to account for 37.8 percent of the Australian smartphone market's handset sales for the preceding three months.

Australia represents Apple's largest share tracked by Kantar, besting the 33.8 percent share of sales seen by the iPhone in Japan, 33.7 percent in Great Britain, and 28.4 percent in the U.S.

Apple was also up 5.1 percent year over year in China, while Android's share of sales for the period fell 5.6 percent. iOS was estimated by Kantar to account for 19.4 percent of handset sales in Chinese smartphone market, for the June-to-August period.

Apple's continued success in those regions is noteworthy because it immediately preceded the debut of the iPhone 6s in September. Apple will report total iPhone sales for the three-month period ending in September, overlapping with two months of Kantar's estimates, next week.

Kantar's data did find that Apple's share of smartphone sales dipped 2.1 percent in the U.S., and 1.3 percent in Spain. Its figures also suggest Apple's share in Italy was flat year over year.

Kantar said that the Samsung Galaxy S6 grew sales in the period, but did not threaten the leadership position of Apple's iPhone 6.

"It is to be expected that in the three months preceding the launch of the new products, Apple iPhone sales would be weaker," reported Carolina Milanesi, chief of research at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech. "While a month from now may still be too early to report initial sales numbers for the new models, we can say today that 11% of iOS owners told us in August that they plan to replace their current phone in the next three months, and 87% of these have told us that Apple is their preferred brand."

Android, meanwhile, continued to struggle across Europe, where it saw year over year sales share losses in Germany, Great Britain, and France. Android's only growth in Europe's "big five" markets came in Italy and Spain, where smartphone adoption is heavily prepaid devices.

And in urban China, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus were the best selling devices as of the end of August. Consumers in that market were said to be most interested in screen resolution, camera quality, and screen size.

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