Smartphones running Microsoft's mobile operating system are making headway in Australia and Japan but it appears they just can't compete with Android in Europe.
The latest quarterly report form Kantar Worldpanel, which constantly polls and analyzes the same global pool of smartphone owners, shows that Windows Phone is slipping across Europe's major markets -- the "EU5" of the UK, France, Italy, Germany and Spain.
A year ago, handsets like the Nokia Lumia range accounted for 6.5 % market share in the region. And, by the end of 2013 it had jumped to 10.3 %. However, 2014 is not starting well for Microsoft: that share is back down to 8.1 %
Popularity continues to grow, albeit slowly, in Australia, Japan and the US, all of which slightly boost the operating system and its connected ecosystem of apps and services globally, but, thanks to Nokia's European roots, Europe had been proving to be the most popular market.
At the moment, Kantar's figures put Android well out in the lead across Europe with a 70.7 % market share, followed by Apple (19.2%), placing Windows in third with 8.1 %.
The company believes that this dip in form is due to increased competition from Android handset makers, particularly at the lower end of the market. Dominic Sunnebo, strategic insight director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, commented: "Apple regained ground in the first quarter of 2014, primarily due to the strong performance of the iPhone 5S, growing its sales share in Europe, Japan and Australia. By contrast, Windows had a tough start to the year as a result of its entry-level Nokia models facing fierce competition from low-end Motorola, LG and Samsung Android smartphones."
Windows Phone's market share also slipped in China from 1.9% in March 2013 to 1% in March this year. And while too much competition at the lower end of the market might be hampering Microsoft's progress in Europe, coming late to market with a handset with a 5-inch+ display might be why it's struggling in China, where 40% of all handsets sold over the past 12 weeks qualify as phablets.
Sunnebo comments: "It's clear that phablets really are changing the way Chinese consumers use smartphones. More than one in five phablet owners now watch mobile TV on a daily basis, half do so at least once a month, and this is without widespread availability of 4G. As 4G infrastructure expands in China, the demand for data is going to be unprecedented, paving the way for carriers to boost revenues significantly through larger data packages."
Even though their market share is slipping in some key territories, as long as Windows Phone's share continues to grow globally, developers can still be convinced to write apps for the platform, so, for the time being at least, Windows Phone 8 smartphone owners have nothing to worry about.