Despite Apple and Android smartphones dominating global sales, Windows Phone devices are steadily being snapped up by new users. In fact, new data shows that Windows Phone sales reached a record market share for the three-month period ending in July.
Kantar Worldpanel ComTech reported that at the end of July Windows Phone dominated 8.2 percent of the five major European markets, including the UK, France, and Germany. It has also increased its market share in other countries worldwide, like Australia and Mexico.
"Android and Apple take the lion's share of the headlines and continue to dominate smartphone sales, so it's easy to forget that there is a third operating system emerging as a real adversary," Kantar strategic insight director Dominic Sunnebo said in a statement. "For the first time the platform has claimed the number two spot in a major world market, taking 11.6 percent of sales in Mexico."
According to Kantar, Windows Phone sales are driven by lower-priced smartphones, like the Nokia Lumia 520. And, rather than stealing customers from iOS or Android, Kantar said new smartphone users are the top people buying Windows Phone devices.
"Windows Phone's success has been in convincing first time smartphone buyers to choose one of its devices with 42 percent of sales over the past year coming from existing feature phone owners," Sunnebo said. "This is a much higher proportion than Android and iOS. The Lumia 520 is hitting a sweet spot, offering the price and quality that new smartphone buyers are looking for."
For comparison, only 27 percent of Apple and Android users switch operating systems when they get a new smartphone.
Catering to feature phone users is a smart tactic since more than half of the world's mobile users are still on the simpler devices, according to Kantar. Older Samsung Galaxy models also sell well with new smartphone owners and the rumored upcoming lower-priced iPhone 5C could pick up some of that market as well.
"The brands that win in this segment will be those that understand and address the needs of consumers in terms of price, content, and quality," Sunnebo said. "Apple and Android must focus on a balance between retaining existing customers and attracting feature phone owners to trade up if they want to continue their success over the next year."