Windows Phone's share of Australian smartphone sales has doubled in the past year, while Android has slumped.
According to the latest figures from Kantar WorldPanel, Windows increased its sales share from 4.6 percent in the three months to September 2012 to 9.3 percent in the most recent quarter.
This rise of 4.7 points more than doubles the share of sales and represents good news for Microsoft, which has battled to remain relevant against market leaders Android and Apple.
Android was the biggest loser in the report, with its share of Australian sales down 10.8 percent. Apple's sales share increased 4.7 percent, no doubt driven by the launch of its two new iPhones.
The growth chimes with comments from Australian Microsoft partners.
Peter Linton, head of Microsoft Integration at Melbourne-based LogicalTech Group, said Windows Phone was a better choice than the iPhone for enterprise integrations.
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"For example, take something simple like Mail – it's simple and basic and it works much better when you are using a Microsoft back-end and front-end system."
He added that iOS and Microsoft "don't play well together".
Linton said Nokia's improved handsets were driving the growth. "The Lumia 925 is a beautiful phone. We are only looking at Windows Phone now because of the handsets available.
"I am seriously proposing a Windows Phone as an option to enterprise clients now. I wouldn't have done that earlier because they weren't realmdy," added Linton.
Biagio LaRosa, managing director of Melbourne-based Generation-e, agreed. "We are seeing strong moves to incorporate Windows Phone into organisational standard operating environments for mobiles as a real option to iPhones.
"In general, larger accounts seem to not trust Android and favour iPhone and Windows Phone."
LaRosa said that the arrival of Lync 2013 was driving uptake of Windows Phone, as well as "advantages around email management and the contact centre".
Driven by the enterprise
Telstra told CRN that the rise in local Windows Phone sales tallied with their own figures.
Tim Webber, the telco's director of business mobility, said enterprise customers were leading the growth.
"We haven’t seen the same level of growth in all parts of the market and it's probably higher [than the Kantar figures] in the enterprise space."
Telstra's enterprise sales of Windows Phone have topped 10 percent in recent months, said Webber.
"The big thing was the introduction of some lower-end Windows 8 phones. Specifically the Lumia 520 was launched a few months ago, which introduced a very low cost smartphone in the Window Phone line-up that has driven a lot of that growth," said Webber.
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He said the fact all Windows Phone handset ran the same operating system was also driving uptake in the enterprise because it made life easier for IT managers, unlike the multiple iterations of Android.
"Some of the other operating systems are a bit fragmented."
Lastly, Webber said the Nokia brand was helping wins sales.
"Nokia has had a long history in the enterprise and a strong resonance. I would say the enterprise were buying a lot more Nokias than consumers even since Nokia has declined as one of the leading vendors, so a lot of this is playing to that brand loyalty."
The Kantar report found that the rise of Windows Phone – "driven almost entirely by Nokia sales" – has continued to make rapid progress in Europe and emerging markets such as Latin America.
In the UK, Windows now accounts for 11.4 percent of the market. Android is still the number one operating system with 58.4 percent while BlackBerry now only has 3.1 percent.
Dominic Sunnebo, strategic insight director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, said: "August is traditionally a quiet month for Apple as consumers wait for the release of new models, and strong sales of the iPhone 5S and 5C at the end of September did not manage to make up for the lull. The full impact of the new iPhones will be seen at Christmas when iOS is expected to bounce back strongly in Britain, the US and Australia."
Microsoft's OS accounts for 9.8 percent of all smartphone sales across the five biggest European markets: Germany, Spain, Italy, France and the UK, according to Kantar.
That still leaves Microsoft's OS well behind Android, leading with a 72 percent sales share in Europe, and iOS, at 14.6 percent, but marks an impressive 5.2 percentage points rise from the same period last year.
In several countries, Microsoft's OS either overtook or caught up with iOS in terms of sales share. Windows Phone sales were stronger than iPhones in Italy, with sales shares of 13.7 percent and 10.2 percent, respectively. The two systems are almost neck-and-neck in Spain.
But Kantar noted that Windows Phone's lead over iOS could be short-lived, given many consumers were holding off upgrading to the new iPhone 5s and the iPhone 5c until Christmas.
"The full impact of the new iPhones will be seen at Christmas when iOS is expected to bounce back strongly in Britain, the US and Australia," said analyst Sunnebo.
However, Sunnebo added that Windows Phone would likely see strong growth outside Europe as consumers trade up from the now defunct Symbian. "The majority of consumers in Latin America still own a Nokia feature phone and upgrading to an entry level Lumia is a logical next step," he said.
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Issue: 347 | March 2016