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Android tops US, Europe smartphone sales

Android-based devices, for the first time, now make up at least half of smartphone sales in the US, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and Australia, according to new data from market research firm Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.

The sales were recorded during a 12-week period ending on 10 June, during which Android's share ranged from 49.6 per cent in Italy to an overwhelming 84.1 per cent in Spain. Much of the Android sales growth is being driven by users who are upgrading from a feature phone to a smartphone, Dominic Sunnebo, consumer insight director at ComTech, said in a statement. The data shows that consumers who want to spend less than $80 ($£50) on their smartphone usually choose an Android device.

"Android handsets currently offer an easier platform to enable these consumers to upgrade, as many first-time smartphone consumers state 'price of handset' and 'multimedia capabilities' as their main reason for choosing an Android device," Sunnebo said.

In the US, the success of the iPhone 4S as well as the first-time availability of the iPhone on Sprint caused Android sales to fall 6.8 per cent, though Android was still dominant overall. The latest data shows that Android captured 50.2 per cent of US sales, down from 57 per cent a year earlier. The iPhone, meanwhile, accounted for 37.4 per cent, up 8.7 per cent from last year.

In general, smartphone owners are "much more loyal" to their brand of handset and network of choice than feature phone users, Sunnebo said. For operators, the demand for smartphones is driving added value as smartphone owners, naturally, spend "significantly more" on their device, as well as their monthly cell phone bill, compared to feature phone users.

Meanwhile, prepaid smartphone sales are also increasing in the UK and other markets, with Android handsets like the Samsung Galaxy Ace and Y selling well, according to ComTech. These models are attracting younger smartphone buyers, who have traditionally favoured BlackBerry.

In April, comScore said Google's Android captured more than 50 per cent of the US smartphone market for the first time.