Apple and its iPhone smartphones in the holiday quarter for the first time overtook Android smartphones in terms of US sales since the same quarter in 2012, according to Kantar Worldpanel ComTech's latest report.

The data released on Wednesday also suggested that Apple saw a rise in sales across the US, Europe, and China during the fourth quarter last year.

In the US, iPhone or iOS accounted for 47.7 percent of smartphones sold in the US, while Android accounted for 47.6 percent, Windows Phone for 3.8 percent, and BlackBerry for 0.3 percent.
Carolina Milanesi, chief of research at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, said, "In the US, Apple iOS overtook Android for the first time since this time in 2012, albeit by the slimmest 0.1 percent margin."

Kantar back in December had predicted that Apple was on its way to a "record quarter" thanks to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus sales in major markets and it certainly came true when the Cupertino-based company announced that it sold 74.5 million iPhone units in Q4.

"While the success of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus is unprecedented, this quarter's performance also points to Apple having its strongest portfolio ever. With a range of devices available at different price points in both contract and pre-pay Apple was able to take advantage of a weaker Android offering at the premium end of the market," Milanesi added.

Apple's iOS also surpassed Android in Australia and Japan, but still lagged behind in Europe and China.

Android smartphone share across Europe (Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain) saw a dip of 3.8 percent points year-on-year to 66.1 percent while Apple's iOS reported a rise by 6.2 percent points.

Great Britain reported the highest growth of iOS devices that saw a rise by 13.1 percent points compared to the same period last year with Android OEMs Samsung, LG, and Sony.

Dominic Sunnebo, strategic insight director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech Europe notes, "Italy was the only European market where Android grew. Considering the strong pre-pay market and the wider direct channel it is not a surprise that Android products - with their value for money proposition - continue to appeal to Italian consumers." Last year, Kantar's data suggested that Android smartphone platform extended its lead over Apple's iPhone in key markets including the United States, Europe and China.

In China, Kantar data suggests that Apple's iOS grew its market share "at the expense of Android." Tamsin Timpson, strategic insight director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech Asia explains that despite Apple saw a rise in smartphone market share; Xiaomi was the bestselling brand. "While Xiaomi remained the bestselling brand in the latest period, Apple was able to close the gap slightly, growing its share to 21.5 percent from 19 percent last year," notes Timpson.

Kantar on Windows Phone said that the OS struggled in the last quarter and recorded slight growth only in countries such as France and Germany.

In another report released for the most gifted device in 2014 holiday quarter in the US, iPhone was the most gifted smartphone while iPad was the favourite in tablets. The Samsung Galaxy S5 was the second most gifted smartphone.According to Kantar, Apple's iPhones represented 57 percent of all smartphones given as gifts while iPads made up 33.7 percent. It adds that iPhone 6 was the most popular gifting smartphone while the iPad Air was the most gifted tablet.

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